SUMMARY.--Rejoicing in Heaven. The Bride Preparing for the Bridegroom. The White Horse and the Word of God. Conquering the World for Christ. The Great Battle. The Beast and the False Prophet Taken. Cast into the Lake of Fire.
The nineteenth chapter of Revelation describes some of the events that precede the full acknowledgment of the reign of Christ among the children of men. These have been partly described in preceding chapters. In chapter 14:6 the apostle points out the mighty strides of the gospel of Christ. In succeeding verses he announces the fall of Babylon, a mighty event is more fully described in succeeding chapters. In chap. 16:13 the gathering of the united hosts of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, to the battle of Armageddon is pointed out. This is the battle in which shall take place the final overthrow of the allied powers which have exerted so malign an influence on the earth. But before this catastrophe is fully explained the apostle brings in an delineation of the great spiritual apostasy under the form of a Harlot, then changes the symbol to a city, alludes to its fate, and in an episode, pictures the mourning over its destruction. In chapter 19, the opening part is a picture of heavenly rejoicings over the great victory about to be won, and then the events that lead up to the great battle are introduced.
1-5. After these things. Following the preceding scenes. I heard a great voice of much people. These songs of rejoicing and thanksgiving are seen in Revelation whenever any great triumph or blessing is about to come. See 5:13; 7:12; 11:15; 12:10. 2. For true and righteous are his judgments. This is shown by the judgments on the spiritual Babylon. 4. And the four and twenty elders. See chap. 4:4, 6, and notes at close of that chapter. 5. And a voice came forth from the throne. Not "out of the throne," as in the Common Version. The speaker is not indicated. It is a call to praise the Lord.
6, 7. I heard . . . a great multitude. This is in response to the call from the throne. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. This is demonstrated in the overthrow of the wicked. 7. For the marriage of the Lamb is come. The blessed union of the Lord with his chosen Bride, the Church. The consummation of this marriage is described in 21:2. His wife hath made herself ready. The Church has to prepare herself for this event before it can take place. The Lord will not accept a bride who is not purified and fit for the Heavenly Bridegroom.
8, 9. To her was granted. By divine grace. That she should be arrayed. She must be arrayed in spotless white. What this white raiment is not left in doubt. It is woven by the pure and holy lives of the saints. 9. And he saith unto me, Write. This always implies a very important message. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. The blessing is upon those who have a part in the blessedness of this holy union. Those will be called who have wedding garments pure and white of fine linen. See verse 8.
10. And I fell at his feet. In this passage and in 22:7, 8, the apostle offers worship to a fellow creature, an angel. In each place the prohibition is prompt. This episode is introduced in order to teach the sinfulness of all creature worship. It is likely that the fact that the fate of a great apostate church, in which worship is offered to its human head, is being declared, is the reason why here this symbolical act occurs. Man created in God's image is to worship only that which is divine. The testimony of Jesus. The angel declares himself of thy brethren. In 22:9, he adds, "of thy brethren, the prophets." Here the explanation is added that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. In testifying of Jesus the angel became one of the prophets.
11-16. And I saw the heaven opened. This implies the opening of a new vision. See 4:1; 11:19. Where a former vision is continued the formula is "After these things." We now have a series of pictures symbolizing the closing events that inaugurate the Millennium. The first of these is the one before symbolized by the angel that flies through heaven with the everlasting gospel, but now presented in a grand vision of the triumphant march of the Word of God. Behold a white horse. Always the symbol of conquest and triumph. See notes on 6:2. He that sat upon him called Faithful and True. It is the Lord, who comes as the Word of God. His conquests are effected by the word, but the march is really the march of Christ. 12. His eyes were as a flame of fire. See note on 1:14. Upon his head were many crowns. Diadems. All kingly authority is concentrated in his hands. He is King of kings. A name written that no man knew. Probably the new name of chap. 2:17, a name which will be disclosed to those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (3:12). 13. He is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with. See Revision. The word in the best Greek MSS. is not Bebammemnon ("dipped"), but "sprinkled." The usual idea is that the sprinkled blood is that of his conquered enemies. I believe that the thought is the sprinkling of his own blood, the blood through which he conquers. 14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him. These armies are the armies of the saints, purified, holy, a conquering host, led by Christ to victory. 15. Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword. See note on 1:16. This symbolizes the word by which he achieved his conquests. He shall rule them with a rod of iron. See notes on 2:27 and 12:5. This implies not a stern, but a firm and lasting rule. He treadeth the winepress. He shall inflict God's judgments on the sins of the earth. See notes on 14:17-19. 16. He hath on his vesture and on his thigh. This probably signifies that the name was written on his vesture, even on his thigh. The Greek may be so translated. King of Kings. Of the various titles given to Christ in this passage this is the highest and marks him as supreme. There are four titles given in the passage: (1) in verse 11; (2) verse 12; (3) verse 13, and (4) in verse 16.
The sublime imagery of this passage portrays the spiritual march and conquest of Christ. A purified church, following Christ, holy and true, shall carry the word in triumphant power to the nations. The armies of the saints, all united under Christ, led by him, strengthened by him, hence invincible, are marching to the great final conflict with the hosts of evil.
17, 18. And I saw an angel standing in the sun. And riding with the sun in his course. From this position in the heavens and riding through the heavens he can call all the fowls of heaven together. Unto the great supper of God. Unto the feast for birds of prey caused by the carnage of God's judgments on his enemies. 18. That ye may eat. The picture drawn is that of the terrible slaughter of a mighty defeat, which leaves the earth covered with the slain of every degree. The conflict meant is that named in next verse.
19-21. I saw the beast. See notes on 13:1-10. This beast represents the world power opposed to Christ under its changing forms. The Roman Pagan Empire, and the Roman Papal secular power, are two forms. But it continues even after these forms pass away. The form in which it will manifest itself in this conflict will be better known when the fulfillment takes place. The beast marshals the kings of the earth as his supporters to oppose the Lamb and his armies. 20. And the beast was taken. It is the beast's last appearance. He is now finally overthrown. And with him the false prophet. The false prophet, the beast, and the dragon have been named in chap. 16:13 as calling the kings of the earth to the battle of Armageddon. See notes there. This is the same conflict. Here the result of the conflict is given. That wrought the signs. This description identifies the false prophet. He is the lamb-like dragon of 13:11, the false spiritual despotism, the apostate church. This false prophet is now taken. They twain were cast alive into a lake of fire. In 18:8 it is said that Babylon shall be burned with fire. Here the false prophet, both symbols of the same power, is cast into the lake of fire. The symbol indicates utter destruction. What is cast into this lake is seen no more. 21. And the rest were killed with the sword of him, etc. This is probably symbolic. If these who had been sinners and supporters of the powers of evil were incapacitated for that support longer, it would be their death (separation) from that cause. It may be that this remnant were converted by the word. And all the birds were filled, etc. If this is a symbol its signification is that the victory was complete.
The coming of Christ, pictured in his chapter, has been seized upon by the advocates of his visible coming before the millennial period which is described in the next chapter. They insist that the passage embraced in verses 11-16 describes a personal coming which shall be visible to the eyes of all men, and which is the coming so often referred to in the Scriptures. To this it might be objected: (1) That the language of this description is all the language of symbolism. None expect that, when the Lord comes, he will be riding on a white horse with an army following him riding on white horses, and having a name "written on his vesture and on his thigh." The language is undoubtedly symbolic. (2) If this be his coming to judgment of which he spoke in Matt. 24:30; Luke 21:27; Matt. 25:31 and described by Paul in 1 Thess. 4:16, Revelation does not rightly describe it. He declares that he shall come on the clouds of heaven preceded and heralded by the trump of the archangel. The coming described in Revelation is not evidently the one meant by our Lord. (3) This personal, visible coming of the Lord is always associated with the Last Judgment. See Matt. 25:31-34; 1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Thess. 2:8, etc. The Scriptures only recognize one visible Return or Coming of Christ. Now, the Last Judgment is not reached in Revelation until we come to chap. 20:11. Here it is placed after the Millennium. Hence, we must conclude that the Visible Return of the Lord does not take place before the Millennium, and that chap. 19:11-16 describes a coming in power, the power of his Word, but not a visible coming. (4) Is it objected that in 20:11 nothing is said of the coming of Christ? It is said (Matt. 25:31) that when the Lord comes he shall be seated on the throne of judgment and in Rev. 20:11 John sees this throne and the Lord sitting on the throne. He does not describe here his coming, but shows him already come and engaged in judgment.