Chapter 18 describes the wailing of the world when the Roman Empire fell. The economic impact of its fall was amazing. The warning was given to God’s people to come out from the wickedness and worldliness and be separate. God’s people must maintain holy lives even when the world is full of immorality. Revelation 19 continues to describe the impact of Rome’s fall.
Rejoicing In Heaven (19:1-5)
John hears what sounds like a great multitude in heaven crying out, “Hallelujah!” The English word is a transliteration of the Greek word, which in turn is a transliteration of the Hebrew word. It is a compound word. “Hallel” means praise and “Jah” is Yahweh. Hallelujah means “Praise the Lord.” Or as our songbook has it, “Hallelujah, praise Jehovah.” Praise the Lord because salvation, glory, and power belong to our God. They are praising God because God’s judgments have been executed. He has judged the great prostitute who has corrupted the earth with her immoralities. He has judged the great prostitute, avenging the blood of his servants.
Wickedness will receive its due judgment. We grasp the difficulty of looking at the world who rejects God yet seems to prosper despite its evil acts. Sometimes we cannot understand why the righteous suffer while the wicked succeed. In the context of Revelation we are reading that the servants of God are going to suffer and be slain. Meanwhile those who worship the beast and its image have no consequences whatsoever. They will not die while the Christians will die. For many chapters we have read that those who are in Christ will be victorious and those who worship the beast will be judged. Justice has finally come. Judgment has finally come. Vindication has finally come. God will be just and God will judged. Praise the Lord because the smoke rises forever and ever. The nation has collapsed and the people are judged. Isaiah used the same language of Babylon.
Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever. (Isaiah 34:10 ESV)
The 24 elders and the four living creatures that we read about in Revelation 4 are praising the Lord along with the voice of the great multitude. From the throne we hear the words, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” These words come from the Hallel section of the Psalms (Psalm 113:1; 115:13). No words can be better than “Praise the Lord.”
Marriage of the Lamb (19:6-10)
Then the voice of a great multitude has another reason to praise the Lord. The sound is described like the roar of many waters and like the sounds of mighty peals of thunder. Friends, this is quite a loud sound, a nearly terrifying sound. The call is to praise the Lord. Rejoice, exalt, and give God glory because the marriage of the Lamb has come. A wedding is taking place. The Lamb is pictured as the groom. The bride is pictured as the people of God. The bride has made herself ready through their righteous deeds. The people of God have remained pure through this tribulation period, remaining faithful to the Lamb and refusing to worship the beast.
This is a picture used in other places in the New Testament to show the relationship of God’s people with the Lamb. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25–27 ESV). Jesus also describes the kingdom of God in terms of a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). This matches the words of the angel in verse 9, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” These are the true words of God. Being joined to the Lamb is the most important thing and it is the great promise of God to be in relationship with him.
Then we reach an interesting part of the narrative. John falls down at the feet of the angel to worship him. However, the angel instructs John not to do that. The angel is also a servant. Worship God. Obviously John knows that we only worship God. I believe he is overcome with the glory and greatness of the message that he falls down in worship. The message the angel has brought is simply amazing! This is likely recorded in Revelation because the second half of this book has been about encouraging Christians to worship the Lamb alone. Do not worship the beast. Do not worship the image of the beast. Do not even worship angels sent from God. Worship God. The testimony given by Jesus is the substance of what the Spirit inspires Christian prophets to speak. The angel is not the source of this awesome prophetic revelation. Jesus is the source. Therefore, worship him.
The Victorious Christ (19:11-21)
Heaven opens and John sees a white horse. Riding on the white horse is one who is called Faithful and True. He judges and makes war in righteousness. As we noted in Revelation 6:2 that the white does not represent purity but victory. In regards to the great multitude in Revelation 7:9, they wear white robes symbolizing victory because of their faithfulness. His eyes are like a flame of fire and on his head are many diadems. He has a name that no one knows but himself. Further, he is clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the name he is called by is The Word of God. The language makes it evident that this is Jesus the Christ. Jesus calls himself the faithful and true witness to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14. The description of eyes being flames of fire is applied to Christ in Revelation 1:14 and 2:18. Earlier in the book of Revelation we saw Jesus wearing seven crowns. Now he is pictured as wearing diadems. I believe the change of imagery suggests that he is wearing the diadems of the beast because he has conquered the beast. The beast has been vanquished and he is wearing those diadems on his head showing he has conquered it. This fits the rest of the imagery. Verse 11 shows he is the one who makes war in righteousness. Further, his robe is dipped in blood or sprinkled in blood. This imagery comes from Isaiah 63:1-6 showing God trampling the enemies.
Who is this 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 your 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. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1–6 ESV)
Following him are the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen that were white and pure. Here comes the armies of the Lord and Christ is the leader on the white horse with his clothing sprayed in blood. Verse 15 reveals messianic imagery. The sharp sword coming out of his mouth was seen in Revelation 1:16. He is going to strike down the nations and rule with a rod of iron. This is a reference to the messianic prophecy in Psalm 2:9 and Isaiah 11:4. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. We saw this predicted in Revelation 14:17-20. This image of Christ acting in the anger of the Lord against the disobedient nations and peoples. The name written on his robe and thigh is “King of kings” and “Lord of lords.” It is interesting that these names are located on his thigh. The thigh was the location of the sword and it was also the place where oaths were made (cf. Genesis 24:2,9; 47:29).
Verses 17-18 are a graphic, grotesque description of the destruction of the beast. Christ will be victorious. His armies are with him and he will conquer. This graphic is used by the prophet Ezekiel in a prophecy against the nations of the earth called Gog and Magog (which we will read about in Revelation 20).
4 You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
17 “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. 19 And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. 20 And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 39:4, 17–20 ESV)
Before the battle has begun and before anyone joins in the fight the result is certain. At the same time as the evil forces are gathering for battle, the carrion birds are gathering in the air for the inevitable slaughter. The circling of vultures overhead indicates the coming doom. Thus, John looks and sees the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against Christ and his army. This is a reminder from Revelation 16:14 where the kings of the earth were gathering at Armageddon. We noted that gathering at Armageddon symbolized a decisive, catastrophic loss. The loss is decisive and catastrophic. The beast was captured along with the false prophet and are thrown in the lake of fire. The rest are slain by the sword that comes out of the mouth of Christ and all the birds ate their flesh. Notice that there is no battle. Christ’s victory is immediate. When the sword comes out from Christ’s mouth, the battle belongs to the Lord and the enemies are crushed. Being thrown alive into the lake of fire seems to indicate the experiencing of the eternal punishment and torment. Revelation 20:10 tells us that the lake of fire is the place of eternal torment. The book of Revelation wants us to clearly understand that Christ is one who has destroyed the beast. Christ is the one who is victorious. Christ is the one who is the Lord of heaven’s armies.
This chapter has a twofold message of encouragement to the Christians, and for us by extension. The marriage to the Lamb has come and we make ourselves ready for this marriage to the Lamb with our righteous acts. Not that we are make ourselves deserving of this great relationship. Rather, we are making the necessary preparations in purity and holiness to be transformed into what God wants us to be. The second message of encouragement is seeing the victorious Christ. Christ has won. Christ rules with all power and might over the nations and peoples of the earth. Do not leave Christ and worship something else. Worship God. Be on the winning team. Those who rebel against Christ are eternally punished in torment.