In the closing chapters of the Revelation given to the apostle John, he is given insight into what happens at the end of time as we know it, when God’s judgment finally comes upon the whole earth. It will be the end of all gospel preaching. It will be the end of the great invitation for all sinners to be reconciled with God through Christ . It will be the end of God’s great mercy expressed to an unwilling and rebellious people. It will be the day of accounting! And it will be the beginning of a new era for God’s people which begins with a feast !
I remind you again of the scheme and flow of the Revelation to John. Central to the Revelation are the visions of three cycles of judgment - seven seals (6:1-8:5) , seven trumpets (8:6-11:19) and seven bowls (16:1-21). Each cycle represents the time between Christ’s ascension and His descension , and the cycles occur with ever increasing intensity. Following this comes a revelation of the end, a vision of the glorious redemption of all the saints and of the final destruction of all of God’s enemies - the prostitute , the beast, the false prophet, and finally Satan himself .
It all begins in 16:17. There we see the judgment of God beginning upon the great prostitute - Babylon - the city of man - the bride of the dragon (16:17-18:-24). This vision is then contrasted with a vision of heaven , and the gathered saints - the bride of Jesus Christ , the church! (19:1-11).
We noted then that destruction finally descends upon the great prostitute, Babylon, who has caused the saints so much trouble. She is the city that symbolizes and represents every city in which immorality and greed and all forms of ungodliness are welcomed . We have noted that heaven rejoices over her destruction (18:20 à 19:1-5). The only ones who weep for the destroyed city are the kings of the earth (18:9) and the merchants of the earth (18:11,15) who had made their living out of her, and whose identity was from her. They are grieving because their life and their livelihood is now gone .
Following this we find the greatest love story ever told. The long suffering bride of Christ, the church , which He purchased with His blood (5:9-10) , has greatly suffered in Babylon . But now she is united with her great bridegroom , the Lord Jesus Christ (19:6-10). It is a happy ending. It’s the completion of a promise . The bridegroom has come to fetch his bride that she may be where He is (John 14:1-3) Here is the consummation of the marriage promised ages ago . This was foretold by Israel’s prophets, and by Jesus in several of his parables. NOW the time has come when God’s people ( metaphorically called the bride) WILL BE joined to their Lord Jesus (metaphorically called the bridegroom of the church) .
Babylon’s destruction ushers in the wedding feast. The time has now come for church to be physically and actually united to her Saviour, whom until this time she has only loved by faith , and not by sight . Now is the time in which the true church will be united with her Saviour, and it all starts with a huge wedding banquet ! This is a party and a feast beyond all human comprehension. In some measure this is what we look forward to every time we celebrate the Lord’s supper , and may I also add , this is what we ought to be reminded of every time we attend a wedding.
What about those who are not invited to the marriage of the Lamb?
Texts like this beg the question , “what will happen to those who have denied or refused Christ in the day when the gospel was preached?” The answer to that , is “ It will be terrible!” But before you get very discouraged about that thought , remember that right now we are still living in the gospel age. “Behold , now is the favourable time; behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2). This is still the age of God’s mercy . We are still living under the shadow of the cross. We are living in the days of the outpoured Spirit, who still opens people’s blind eyes and deaf ears . So, if you are thinking about your loved ones that do not worship Christ , do not loose heart ! Pray and seek the Lord for their salvation . Remember Bible promises like Luke 11:13 and Luke 18: 1- 8 and Rev. 5:8 ; 8:3-4. Remember that God is still in the business of answering our prayers.
Revelation 19: 11- 21 - Two visions
(i) First vision - 19:11-16 - The Lord Jesus Christ on a white horse , like a conquering king ready to defeat His enemies . He comes to strike all the enemies of God – all those that have opposed Him, inspired by their leader Satan (the dragon- Ch. 13 ), and the anti-christ (the first beast) and the false prophet ( the second beast). Christ appears on a white horse with the armies of heaven (v. 14) who are also seated on white horses . The horse is for war. Notice that our Lord does not appear now on the colt of a donkey but on a horse. He does not now come as the meek Galilean announcing the kingdom of God and calling people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. No! He now comes as a warrior and a judge . He is fighting a battle that He will win. His personal appearance and His body language say it all . His eyes are like a flame of fire. He sees everything for what it is, even the inmost thoughts of the human heart. Nothing is hidden before Him when He comes for judgment. He is called “ Faithful and True”. He is the Faithful One as He now comes on the clouds of heaven according to His Word, as he said He would ( e.g Matt 24:30) to meet the expectation of the church of all the ages that has been waiting for His return. Jesus had spoken many times about His second coming. The prophets and the apostles had spoken about His second coming . He is the True One . Many false Christ’s arose in His absence, just as He said according to His Word ( e.g. Matt 24:4,5). When He returns, the difference between the false christ’s and Him will be overwhelming !
On His head He wears many crowns (diadems) symbolic of victories won in the past. This is not the first time that He has won the battle. On the cross He already has overcome sin and the devil.
“… and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.” This name is no secret. It is in fact revealed in v. 16 : “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
In v. 13 we read that the Lord Jesus is “clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God.” We are immediately reminded of 5:9 : “worthy are you … for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” But a number of commentators think that the imagery here relates to Isaiah 63:1-3 – a reference to the day of the Lord : “Who is who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? It is I , speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. Why is your apparel red, and our garments like his who treads in the winepress ? I have trodden the winepress alone and from the peoples no one was with me. I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel clothing.” The image of a robe dipped in blood corresponds with the last judgment and it appears that Isaiah 63 and John 19:11ff speak about the same thing – the terrible judgment of God on all His opponents.
V. 14 “ And the armies of heaven , arrayed in fine linen white and pure were following him on white horses” . When the Lord Jesus returns in judgment He does not come alone. He will be accompanied by His angelic army – just as He said in Matt. 13:39-49; Matt 16:27; 24:31; 25:31.
V. 15 Notice too, that this army does not fight in the great battle. They accompany Christ who will simply strike the nations with his Word and rule them with a rod of iron ! He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty alone !
(ii) Second vision - Vv.17- 21 : An angel makes a gruesome announcement . This sounds similar to what we read of in Ezekiel 39: 17 -19. Here Ezekiel speaks of a coming judgment, in which the birds will feed upon the flesh of those defeated by the God of Israel . John links this picture with the day of judgment .
Note the irony ! In the first 10 verses of Ch.19 John speaks of the great blessing of being invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In verses 11 and following there is a “feast of judgment” . For this feast, the LORD issues an invitation to the birds : “Come and dine !” All those who reject the free offer of Christ will be handed over to the birds! They won’t be guests . They will be the main course!
Here follows the climax ! (Vv. 19-21) . The servants of the devil will now suffer the full consequences of their actions. In this last battle ( called Armageddon – 16:16) the beast and the false prophet do their utmost to destroy the church , when suddenly the Lord Jesus appears! We read that the beast and the false prophet were captured and thrown into the lake of fire, to be tormented forever and ever. All those who have followed the beast and who bear his mark will be consumed by the wrath of God, their remains will be eaten by the birds.
Summary: The prostitute has been judged; the anti-christ ( the first beast) is now judged, and the false prophet ( the second beast ) is now judged. All those who serve them will be judged. In chapter 20 we will see Satan judged.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is wonderful good news for all those invited to the marriage supper of Christ the Lamb .
Those who have ignored the message of Christ and who have mocked His word and who have refused to come to Him to have life will then be judged by Him . Be warned. If you are not trusting in Christ for your salvation, you cannot stand. You will be handed over . You now know what awaits you.
Right now it is not too late to respond and to receive that invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb . I beg you to flee to Jesus Christ this very moment before that day comes when He shall be your Judge, and not your Savior.