Revelation 19-20 (Ps 47) Lynne McCarthy 12/23/21
Observe: Babylon the Great has fallen!(18:21) The ‘great multitude’ and the heavenly council shout Hallelujahs to exalt God and His true judgments! Celebration now -- the Lamb’s marriage feast to His bride, His Church! Clothed in beautiful white linen, the righteous deeds of the saints (19:8b), His invited guests assemble, a beatitude is given for these holy ones (9).
Heaven splits open, and a crowned rider on a white horse emerges, the righteous[LM1] Judge, clothed in a blood-reddened robe (His shed blood!), a two-edged sword (remember Pergamum (2:12)?) issuing from His mouth with which to strike down the nations (15). His names: Faithful and True, the Word of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings – and one He alone knows. He rides out in God’s wrath with His heavenly army, victorious.
Invitees are not the only ones who will feast: at an angelic signal, carrion birds gorge on all those who reject the great King. Beast and false prophet and their numbers defy His army, their lies fodder for the King’s sword. Heavenly battles are drawing to an end, though not yet done.
An angel with a key to the Abyss (= hell) chains the Dragon (that ancient serpent who is the devil or Satan (20:2; Gen 3)), locking him into the depths for 1000 years. Martyrs and the faithful now reign with Christ. The evil one, freed for a little while (3) deceives yet again and rebels still sin. Battles for God’s people continue, but God protects them (9). Finally, Satan is thrown into the lake of burning sulphur – the ‘second death’ (from which the church in Smyrna is delivered (2:11b)).
John sees a great white throne – stark, austere, no splendid rainbow or jewels, Jesus seated as judge. The dead and those released from the sea, Death and Hades stand before the throne. Jesus opens the Book of Life to judge their deeds. Death and Hades, with those whose names are not in His Book, end in the lake of fire. At last, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17).
Interpret: This end begins Jesus' reign on earth, rebellious unbelievers eternally suffer. Uneasy reading, yes, but hopeful! Names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life because of what Jesus did, not by their good deeds. The Book records their [our!] faith in Jesus and their good works, prepared for us by God from before time (Eph. 2:10).
Jesus’ first coming to earth was humble, but what a return! A King crowned with victory over death and sin, a splendid white horse (no donkey now!), His mighty Word-sword destroying evil, His testimony the spirit of prophecy (19:10). What does this cryptic phrase mean? IV Press, in an article on prophecy, comments: “A true testimony to Jesus means obedience to his commands and faithfulness to his teaching. And, as Jesus openly confessed his allegiance to his Father, so the true Christian openly acknowledges faithfulness to Jesus.” *
Apply: Judgment is an unknown-future reality. We will be judged; let’s not be found wanting (an incentive to self-examination. The Spirit will help if we ask.) Applying the Word to our daily lives in faith and love sparks hope. John wrote Revelation to encourage and bring hope to the suffering church. As we wait for Jesus’ return, we read Revelation with the same hope, knowing that all, at the end, will be well.
We’ve almost finished our Bible in a Year, but this isn’t a ‘project done’ to cross off our To Do list. By His grace the Holy Spirit has kept us, daily reading and changing. We fix our eyes on our Faithful and True Jesus that He keep us in His Word, day after day, year after year, until we faithfully and truly love Him, His Word, and one another, until He comes again. Those glorious names, Faithful and True, can be ours, too.
Ask: Lord Jesus, will you help me, by Your Spirit, to read Your Word again and again, to love it, and to love You first and always?
Pray: Jesus, You are our strength and our song, our salvation (Isa. 12:2)! Jesus, Faithful and True, grace us to stay faithful and true to You, always.
Sing: Salvation Belongs to our God - Jeremy Fisher
Worthy is the Lamb - Handel's Messiah
Psalm 47 - God Mounts His Throne - Paul Inwood
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.