The Great Battle – Revelation 19-20
Chapter 19 of Revelation stands in contrast to chapter 18. Where chapter 18 was a cry of lament over the kingdom of Babylon, chapter 19 is rejoicing over its destruction. There is the voice of a great multitude that comes from heaven crying out praise and glory to God. The multitude declares that salvation belongs to God and celebrate the destruction of the great prostitute. They rejoice over the great justice of God, knowing that His judgments are true and just. In this picture we see many of the heavenly characters we have seen before. We have the great multitude consisting of the saints and martyrs, the twenty-four elders, and the four living creatures all participating together in this worship of God.
This song of worship to God shifts as the multitude begins to declare that the marriage of the Lamb has come! The Lamb we know as Jesus Christ. This is a very common image that has been seen throughout scripture. The bride should also be known to us as an image that we have seen in other places, such as Ephesians 5:22-32. The bride is the collective saints, the church. They are clothed in linen bright and pure, which are the righteous deeds of the saints. Our righteousness is not our own but given us by Jesus Christ. Those of us in Christ have been clothed in righteousness. Isaiah says similar things in Isaiah 61:10 when he mentions he is clothed in garments of salvation and is covered with a robe of righteousness. This bride has been clothed and prepared for their groom, the Lamb.
After this scene, John sees heaven opened and a white horse descending. He describes the one sitting on the horse as being called Faithful and True. He judges and makes war in righteousness. The description John gives is beautiful and terrifying. Isaiah 63:1-6 is another picture of this rider. Isaiah describes him in very similar words. Jesus is coming prepared to finish the destruction that has started. His robe has blood dripping from it which is described as him coming from pressing out the winepress of God’s wrath. This image should not strike fear or anger in us. It should not make us question God’s justice as a good and loving God. Every single thing that God does is out of love. His judgment and wrath is completely wrapped up in His love. This destruction is an expression of that love in that He is enacting vengeance and preparing the earth to be given over to his children as totally pure!
As Jesus is coming out for this great battle, an angel appears and calls out to the birds to come and prepare for a feast. It is a vivid image of the battle that is to ensue. During this battle, the beast and false prophet will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire. Continuing into chapter 20, we see that the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is Satan is seized and thrown in a pit for a thousand years.
This one-thousand-year time that Satan is in the pit is referred to as the millennial kingdom. The saints are brought back to the earth for this time of Eden like existence with God. It will be a time when evil is not in existence, and the devil is bound so he cannot deceive anyone. One might imagine that this divine time out would give Stan an attitude adjustment. However, at the end of this time he is released from his prison and once again gathers an army to fight God.
When we see this, we quickly ask, “who is Satan gathering to fight?” I believe that this vast army he is gathering is not the born-again saints. Those who were part of the resurrection into the millennial kingdom cannot be swayed by Satan to turn against God. However, there will be some who come out of the great tribulation without fully giving themselves to Jesus. This will be a group of rebels of sorts who did not align with the beast and receive its mark, but also didn’t acknowledge God. They were not destroyed during the battle, and so were brought into the new kingdom, they also did not die in other ways in order to receive a glorified body. It is these who have not been regenerated that will be subject to Satan’s sway and join him in this second battle attempt. This battle will not actually happen though. As the newly formed army lines up against the saints, fire comes down heaven and consumes them all. The devil is then taken and thrown into the lake of fire where he will stay forever.
John then sees another scene, a great white throne and one seated on it. Everyone was brought before Him and judged based on what was written in the books that were opened. Whoever’s name was not written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death.
After going through these chapters, two things stand out to me as something we must pay attention to. Revelation 19:10 tells us that John bowed to worship an angel, but the angel stopped him. John saw the glory of this angel and heard its message and thought it worthy of his worship. The angel reminds John that he is just a simple servant and John must worship God. In our world today there are lot of people and ideas that have set themselves up to be more than just simple servants. They look good. They seem to be a life saver and worthy of our adoration and worship. However, they are not. They are flawed. They are not God. We need to check our lives and see if there is anything or anyone that we have placed so high on a pedestal that we have begun giving them our worship. We can find a cause that seems so good that we give our full allegiance to it allowing it to come before our relationship with God. We can see a person that we attribute greater praise to than God. This is wrong and will ultimately lead us away from God and down a path of disappointment. We are called to worship God. Nothing and no one else. God alone is worthy. Who, or what, are you worshiping? Worship God.
Second, the book of life. Only those found written in the book of life will escape the second death. Jesus tells us that He is the only way to relationship with the Father. He is the only way to getting into the book of life. Jesus came and died so that all the world could be saved (John 3:16-17)! He so deeply desires relationship with you. Throughout the whole book of Revelation God has been allowing more chances for people to turn back to Him. Honestly though, we do not know if we will make it that long. You do not know if you will be given that many chances. If you have not accepted Christ as your savior, now is the time! Now is the time to put away your selfishness and accept Christ’s perfect plan for your life! He is not willing that you should perish, but that you should repent and turn to Him! Give your life to God, and worship Him!
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