Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3
Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5
Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7
Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9
Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15
Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18
Rev 19 presents the stark contrast of two feasts, two responses and two rewards representing the fruits of two worldviews. On one worldview, you are preparing for the most anticipated and blessed feast in history: the marriage supper of the Lamb; you have a spontaneous thunder of praise and adoration for the Messiah who made your attendance at that Millennium Kingdom feast possible; and you have the reward of a dazzling white robe as Jesus’ worshipers enter their new heavenly forever. Representing the fruits of the other worldview is a grotesque feast of vultures feeding on the flesh of armies united against God (Rev 19:18); you have a hail of bullets, missiles and curses hurled at Jesus as He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords; and you have a river of blood and hundreds of millions of souls bound for hell to join the billions waiting for their sentence. For sheer drama, it doesn’t get any better than that!
In terms of chronology, ch. 19 picks up where ch. 16 left off. Recall that we saw hundreds of millions of demonized troops deployed along a battle line from Turkey to the Sinai Peninsula and attacking one another in a war of total annihilation. Hundred pound hailstones are slamming into the earth, and most of the great cities on earth are leveled as the greatest earthquake in the history of the human race tears across the planet. Jesus said if these days went on not one human being would be left alive (Matt 24:21-22). As utterly hopeless as things look on earth, God is actually about to end the problem of human suffering.
In the eyes of unbelieving mankind, God is denounced as unreal until His existence is past undeniable; then He is blasphemed as unfair. When sinful man suffers the just consequences of rejecting God’s grace and forgiveness through His Lamb, they will call Him unjust no matter how many times He was warned them. This willful blindness and hardness of heart is seen in Rev 9:20, 21 and 16:21. Contrast this with the attitude expressed in the fivefold hallelujahs as Christ prepares to return to earth as King of kings. Rather than being unfair or unjust, Christ’s judgment is true and just (19:2). As J. Vernon McGee put it, “You might have a better plan than God, but what you don’t have is your own universe.” Since Christ assumed a human nature so He could share in all the experience of humanity, and since Christ literally accepted the blame for every sin of every sinner who would confess His need for Christ’s free gift of salvation, Christ more than has the right to now judge the world who instead spat in His face.
Rev 19:7-10 presents the raptured Church as the bride who has made herself ready. If we men don’t love the analogy as much as women, remember that we’ll all be like the angels in heaven (Mark 12:25); there’s no sexual context. In heaven, ALL believers will be one in submitting to Christ – and resurrection believers will be united in their submission to Christ (Eph 5:22-24), NOT in “femininity.” We’ll be dressed in the “fine linen, bright and clean” which will be made according to our “righteous acts” (19:8). The lavishness of this robe will be determined by what we did on earth; we’re literally weaving our heavenly garment this very moment! They may be elaborately studded with gold and silver and precious stones or they may smell like smoke from all the wood, hay and straw of our unspiritual lives on earth (1 Cor 3:10-15). It’s all up to YOU. But there is simply no question that God rewards us for our righteousness that comes from living our lives in faith and acting out that faith in our attitudes/conduct.
Here’s a good question: when does the wedding feast of the Lamb occur? Jesus Himself tells us that He won’t drink wine with His disciples until He drinks it with us in His Father’s Kingdom (Matt 26:29). And when is that? At the beginning of the Millennium after the battle of Armageddon and the separation of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31ff). I believe the Old Testament saints (who will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation cf. Dan 12:2) will join Tribulation martyrs (Rev 20:4) as well as Raptured believers at this feast. The guests of honor will be those Tribulation saints who survived. Had you asked me prior to my study of this chapter, I would have confidently told you that this feast occurred in Heaven during the Tribulation. But think of all the great company we’d miss out on if that were true!
John is so overwhelmed by all the glory he sees that he falls down before the angel – whom we were told in 18:1 “had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor” – who tells him to knock that junk off right away. Because only God is EVER to be worshiped. And THAT’S how we can know that Christ is no angel and no created being of ANY kind, but our Savior, our Lord, our God, and our Creator. As beautiful and majestic as the angels are, Jesus is as superior to them (Heb 1:3-4) as He is to all of His creation (John 1:1-3,10, Colossians 1:16) which He also sustains (Heb 1:3) and holds together (Col 1:17).
If you want to shock yourself, enter the question in your search engine, “Will Jesus physically return to earth?” and note all the preterists who call themselves “Christians” who deny that He will. They make Jesus out to be a liar (e.g. Matt 24:30). Heb 9:28 assures us that Christ “WILL appear a second time.” When Jesus Ascended, His disciples stood gawking up at Him as He was physically taken up to heaven until an angel appeared and told them, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We’re assured that Christ will first set foot on the Mount of Olives when He returns to earth (Zechariah 14:4-8). Which btw is exactly where the disciples were standing when the angel told them to quit gawking at Jesus (Acts 1:12)! And if all that isn’t clear enough, Rev 19 most certainly is. And Jesus doesn’t just physically return to earth, He physically wipes out His enemies. Jesus fulfills Isaiah 63:1-4 in singlehandedly destroying His enemies. Our robes will be white (19:14); His will be red from treading the winepress (Isa 63:2-3 cf. Rev 19:15). And so we say “buh-bye” to Antichrist and the false prophet.
So why is Satan bound for a thousand years only to be released in Rev. 20? Just as God gives sinful man his chance to “have it his own way” in order to reveal in history that man simply cannot make it without Jesus Christ, so also does God give the human race in the Millennial Kingdom this “opportunity” to turn their backs on Jesus. By releasing Satan, God demonstrates in human history that as long as man has a choice – even with Christ physically ruling over him in Jerusalem – sinful man will always choose evil. Sin is not the unfortunate result of poverty or our environment; it is the result of our fallen nature apart from Christ. And so even the Millennium Kingdom – as idyllic as it is compared with the world Christ just saved at the end of the Tribulation – is not ultimately adequate. We need the ultimate state of heaven where God will confirm us in our righteousness and where no Satan can ever tread. That’s why.
Again, marvel at the silliness of people who call themselves “Christians.” SIX TIMES in Rev 20 we are told that this literal kingdom on earth will last for one thousand years. In Latin, “mille” means “one thousand” and “annum” means, “year.” One thousand years. Did God promise such an earthly Kingdom? Yes, repeatedly to His people the Jews. The very heart of the Old Testament prophetic message is the coming of Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom over which He would rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Will God fulfill His promises literally? Yes, just as He always has before. When God said Messiah would be born of a virgin, He was born of a virgin. When God said Messiah would physically suffer and die, He physically suffered and died. And when God says that Messiah would rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years, He will rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years. In Acts 1:6 Jesus’ disciples asked if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel now. Why would they have asked this if Jesus was NOT going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Remember the Road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:27) where Jesus explained everything to the disciples? That had already happened forty days BEFORE Acts 1:6; and Luke and Acts were both written by Luke to demonstrate that continuity. But more importantly, why wouldn’t Christ have not corrected them and explained that they had it all wrong and there would never be such a kingdom for Israel to begin with? This is not rocket science. And yet it seemingly would be easier for some people to build a rocket ship and land it safely on the surface of the sun than to figure out that “a thousand years” means “a thousand years.”
So Satan is bound for how long? A thousand years (Rev 20:2,3). Which interestingly corresponds to the time between the revelation through Moses (~1400 BC) and the final OT revelation through Malachi (~400 BC). The Messianic Kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament is a time of universal righteousness and peace (Isa 11:6-9), but that won’t happen if Satan is allowed to incite man to sin and to follow his base nature and defy God. Basically, the Tribulation saints – including the 144,000 Jews and their Jewish converts who fled to Petra (see Rev 12:14) – who survive will inherit the Millennial Kingdom. Every single human being on earth on Day One of the Millennium will be a saved believer. But they will have children. During the Millennium human beings will live an incredibly long time (see Isaiah 65:20 and understand that this prophecy makes no sense whatsoever apart from the Millennium Kingdom). And some of these children will simply harden their hearts against Jesus just as we saw so many others do during the Tribulation.
We have the first resurrection – here composed entirely of believers who were martyred during the Tribulation (Rev 20:4-6). This resurrection actually completes the fourth of four phases of this “first resurrection.” Christ was the first fruits of this first resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-25). In phase 2, raptured Christians living and dead received their resurrection bodies (1 Thess 4:13-18) before the Tribulation. In phase 3 of this first resurrection the Old Testament saints receive their new bodies at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium so they can see God’s Word to them LITERALLY FULFILLED and they could witness God’s faithfulness in their flesh (see Job 19:25-27). That btw validates the 40 times the word “resurrection” is used in the New Testament, which is always a bodily resurrection (see John 5:28).
Near the end of the Millennium Satan is loosed and allowed to stir up what will be the very last rebellion in the entire history of the human race. God will destroy it and throw Satan into hell for all eternity.
The second resurrection (Rev 20:11-15) consists ONLY in those whose names had not been written in the Book of Life. They aren’t resurrected prior to the Millennium because they have no part in it and will have no part in anything other than hell. Jesus – who spoke more about hell than ANYONE – told us there would be a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation (see John 5:29). And it’s going to be at this time that God will respond, “I never knew you” to those who assure Him there must have been some kind of clerical error. God will open up His Law and demonstrate how they ignored it (Gal 3:10). And God will open up the Book of Works (Eccles 12:14) and show that they stand condemned as sinners. And then He will open up the Book of Life and show that at no time did they ever truly accept His Son as Savior (John 3:18). The entire meaning of life consists in FINDING life in the Son of God.