Monday, January 30, 2017

Arrival of Jesus

1 After this, I (John) heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise the LORD (Hallelujah)! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. 2 His judgments are true and just. He has punished (judged) the great prostitute (wicked woman) who corrupted the earth with her immorality (idolatry, evil). He has avenged the murder of His servants.” 3 And again their voices rang out: “Praise the LORD (Hallelujah)! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!” 4 Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the LORD (Hallelujah)!” 5 And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all His servants, all who fear (reverence) Him, from the least to the greatest.” 6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD (Hallelujah)! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His bride (wife) has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds (righteous deeds) of God’s holy people (saints). 9 And the angel said to me (John), “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, do not worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” 11 Then I (John) saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its Rider was named Faithful and True, for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on His head were many crowns (diadems). A name (title) was written on Him that no one understood except Himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and His title (name) was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On His robe at His thigh was written this title (name): King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the One sitting on the horse and His army (troops). 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the One riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies. Revelation 19:1-21 (NLT)

Revelation 19 changes the setting of John’s vision to heaven, where John (the human author of Revelation) sees the celebration of God’s people. God’s people were celebrating because of the defeat and destruction of the wicked woman, also known as “Babylon.” As mentioned previously beginning at Revelation 17:1 and ending with Revelation 20:15, John describes God and His Son Jesus the Lamb’s final victory over evil – the unholy trinity (Satan the dragon, the beast (antichrist), and the false prophet), their wicked woman, and people who follow the ways of evil (see Revelation 17:15-18; Revelation 19:19-21; Revelation 20:7-10, 15). Essentially, John assures faithful believers of Jesus that God and the Lamb will defeat evil! God really is in control and righteousness will reign eternally supreme.

Revelation 19 consists of three parts. The first verses of Revelation 19 describe the celebration and rejoicing of faithful believers for God’s destruction of the wicked woman in chapters 17 and 18 (see Revelation 19:1-10). The second part of Revelation reveal the arrival of Jesus the Lamb and His faithful army (Revelation 19:11-18). The third part of Revelation reveals the total destruction of the beast (also known as the antichrist) and his false prophet along with their evil army (see Revelation 19:19-21).

Revelation 19 begins with John hearing great crowds in heaven celebrating and shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 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” (Revelation 19:1-2, ESV). Heaven is breaking out in praise! God has avenged the blood of His servants (saints) (see Revelation 6:10; see also Deuteronomy 32:43). God has judged the wicked woman who also represents moral and spiritual corruption. Then, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures, which are around God’s throne, fell down and worshiped the true and living God sitting on the throne and they declared, “Amen. Hallelujah!” (Revelation 19:4, ESV; see also Revelation 4:2-8). Then from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear (reverence and honor) Him, small and great” (Revelation 19:5, ESV).

At that moment, John heard once again what sounded like the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like the sound of mighty rolling of great thunder, triumphantly shouting:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Revelation 19:6-8 (NIV)

Interestingly the bride of the Lamb wore the cleanest, whitest, and finest of linens, which represented the good deeds or righteous actions done by His people (saints) (Revelation 19:8; see also Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10). True, the Holy Scriptures teaches that the true and living God saves us by His grace when we believed in Him and His Son, Jesus (Ephesians 2:5, 8; see also Romans 3:21-26). We can never take credit for our salvation because our salvation is a gift from God. However, the Holy Scriptures also equally teaches that God and His Son will judge everyone by his or her righteous deeds or works (see e.g., Psalm 62:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 2:6). The issue is not salvation by righteous works or deeds but a person’s righteous works and deeds are overwhelming evidence of one’s genuine faithfulness and obedience to God. Salvation is by faith (see e.g., Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), but our genuine faith in God and His Son Jesus are revealed by the good and righteous works and deeds our faith produces (see e.g., Matthew 7:15-23; Romans 13:13-14; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24; Ephesians 5:1-21; Galatians 5:22-23; James 2:14-26).

The imagery of the relationship between God and His people (His bride) as a marriage or wedding goes back into the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the prophets repeatedly spoke of Israel as the chosen bride of God (see e.g., Isaiah 54:1-8; Ezekiel 16:7; Hosea 2:19-20). This same symbolism occurs in the New Testament (see e.g., Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:1-13; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 12:36; 2 Corinthians 11:2). In the New Testament, the church represents the bride of Christ consisting of both Jews and Gentiles that acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Jesus loved the church so much that He gave Himself up in her behalf (see Ephesians 5:25, 32).

Then, the angel said to John to write down this sentence, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9, NLT). The angel also told John, “These are true words that come from God” (Revelation 19:9, NLT). Then, John fell down at the angel’s feet to worship him, but the angel said to John:

“Do not worship me! I am a servant like you and your brothers and sisters who have the message of Jesus. Worship God, because the message about Jesus is the spirit that gives all prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (NCV)

AT THAT MOMENT, John saw heaven opened and a white horse standing there (Revelation 19:11). The One sitting on the white horse was named Faithful and True, and John added that in righteousness He judges, punishes, and makes war (Revelation 19:11). The One sitting on the white horse is the living and resurrected Jesus! This time Jesus is coming not as the Baby in a manger but the great Warrior-Messiah-King. This passage portrays the physical second coming of Jesus predicted at Acts 1:9-11.

John declared that Jesus’ piercing eyes were like flames, and on His head were many crowns or diadems (Revelation 19:12; see also Revelation 1:14). Jesus had a name written on His forehead that no one knows the meaning but Himself (Revelation 19:12). Amazingly, John noticed that the conquering Jesus was clothed with garments dipped in blood (Revelation 19:13; see also; Revelation 5:6, 9). John called Jesus the “Word of God” (Revelation 19:13; see also John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:1-2). The armies of heaven, dressed in finest linen, white and clean, also followed Jesus on white horses (Revelation 19:14). Interestingly, Jesus’ army wore fine linen, white and pure, instead of wearing armor. In Jesus’ mouth, He held a sharp sword to strike down the nations (Revelation 19:15; see also Revelation 1:16). Then, John declared the living and resurrected Jesus will rule (shepherd) the nations with a rod of iron or iron scepter and tread the winepress of the fury of God’s ultimate wrath (Revelation 19:15; see also Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Psalm 2:9). On Jesus’ robe and thigh, Jesus had a title written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).

Then, John saw an angel standing in the sunshine, shouting loudly to all the vultures flying in air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great” (Revelation 19:17-18, NIV). This revolting scene is based on the visions of the Old Testament prophet of Ezekiel where God commanded the birds of every kind to gather for a feast on the warriors and princes of God (see Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, especially Ezekiel 39:17-20).

At that juncture, John saw the beast, the kings or government of the earth, and their armies gathered to make war against Jesus and His faithful army (Revelation 19:19). Interestingly, John does not describe the actual battle. Instead, the beast was captured and with him his false prophet who had performed the miraculous and deceptive signs on the beast’s behalf (Revelation 19:20). Both Satan (also called great dragon, ancient serpent, and the devil) and the false prophet are portrayed in Revelation as deceivers, tricksters, and liars who lead the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 13:14-15; Relation 19:20; Revelation 20:3, 10). With these deceiving and miraculous signs, the false prophet and the beast had deceived and mislead those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his evil image (Revelation 19:20). Together, the beast and the false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (lake of fire) (Revelation 19:20). The rest of the evil followers of the beast and the false prophet (their army) were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of Jesus (Revelation 19:21; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Then, all the birds of the air gorged themselves on the evil followers’ flesh (Revelation 19:21).

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Dr. Loyd Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of the New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).

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