CHAPTER NINETEEN



HEAVEN REJOICES

1 "And after these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God!

2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand.'

3 And again they said, 'Alleluia! And her smoke rises up forever and ever!'

4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, 'Amen! Alleluia!'

5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all you His servants and you who fear Him, both small and great!'

There are many examples of responsive praises to God when He has done something special in behalf of His people. But the above verses must surely be the "Hallelujah Chorus" of them all! Everyone in heaven --- the 'multitudes', the 'four living creatures', and the 'twenty-four elders' --- all join in exultation on this momentous occasion.

Then, a voice comes from the throne addressing all the 'servants' and those who 'fear Him', both 'small and great', telling all of them to "Praise our God". This voice must be the Lord Jesus. Who else deserves to sit on the throne?

Remarkably, even in His Kingly position, Jesus is still showing His obedient nature. He is telling us that adoration is to be directed towards the One to Whom He prayed when He was here on the earththe heavenly Father. That Jesus is fully God is unquestionable. But He personally tells us here there is something unique about the Father's position in heaven. The Father and Son are one but the Son is not the Father. Oh how worthy our Lord is! If only we could embrace just a little of His submissive spirit.

The praises shall ring out! What a day that will be! The amazing thing is why they are praising. It is because the "harlot" has been judged and executed. This says to me that the structure of Babylon The Great is a mighty big thing, obviously at the last encircling ALL evil practices.

In the final analysis of the "harlot", we must conclude that every resistance against godliness ultimately becomes a part of this mysterious woman. Therefore, we must not limit our thinking as we appraise Babylon's identity. It may seem I have done this very thing since I give so much attention to the last religious-temporal relationship --- i.e., the Roman Catholic Church married to a unified-Europe. But, it must be remembered that what we see today in these circles, while already quite large and even with a bit of godliness still in it, is still in its formative stages. However, in the end, the organization will be on a much grander scale and the restrictions and control over mankind will be overwhelming.

In the last of the 'last days' many other 'churches' will likely have re-joined the 'mother of harlots' --- Roman Catholicism. It is also noteworthy here to see that those in heaven seem to be getting a view of MYSTERY BABYLON in all its historical glories, extending far back to its commencement days, as well as observing the status of the harlot's last "hour".

THE BRIDE IS READY FOR MARRIAGE

6 "And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia'! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

7 'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.'

8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righeous acts of the saints.

9 And he said to me, "Write": 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."

10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, 'See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

From the time Jesus called His first disciples, continuing up to the present hour, all saints (Christians) have looked forward to this day with glad anticipation; the day when we would all gather together for the marriage feast --- the wedding day of the "Bride" (all Christians) and the "Bridegroom" (Jesus).

It is humbling to read verse 8 and see that part of the beauty of our clothing results from our own righteous acts done in this world. (This is not referring to salvation, but to the good work which follows those that are truly saved.)

"Lord, help us to do good---NOW! Help us to be bold as we invite others to the marriage feast for You have called that "BLESSED"! Help us to help others. Give us hearts like the good Samaritan. And Lord, may we learn to be as the ones you seek: those who worship You in Spirit and in truth, in the here-and-now. Amen!"

It seems the apostle John had gotten so excited, he thought everything he was seeing was already accomplished. For a moment he must have forgotten this was a vision because he fell at the feet of the one telling him these things, presuming, it seems, that the angel was God Himself. John wanted to get in on this 'praise service'! Don't you just love this apostle? Thank you God, for John!

CHRIST ON A WHITE HORSE

11 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and with righteousness He judges and makes war.

12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. And He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.

13 And He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

15 And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS

AND LORD OF LORDS"

Little comment need be added to the plain message here. The few points I'll make should not be regarded as commensurate with the passage's import. Indeed, herein is described the crowning climax of the Christian hope --- that we shall all one day join our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Whom John refers to here as the "Faithful and True."

It's interesting to note that Jesus' robe will be "dipped in blood". I believe this represents both His Own blood, as well as all the saints and prophets who have sacrificed their blood building God's Kingdom. Imagine that Jesus, the Son of the Living God, would give such honor and tribute to His own creation. More evidence of His graciousness, love, kindness and humility. Praise His Holy Name!

The "armies" in heaven would be the saints of all ages. The "linen" they wear, we recall from verse 8, is the result of their own righteous acts demonstrated while on earth. Just as Jesus will then have a unique name and wear a special robe, it seems the Christians will likewise be specifically-named and specially-arrayed. Now all this is not completely clear but one can't help speculating a little here.

Recall there was a white horse and rider discussed in chapter 6 under the Sixth Seal --- Constantine The Great. He did great things in the name of Christianity but actually was a great perverter of the true faith.

But, thanks be to God, there will be another white horse and another Rider Who can be depended on! He is no fake. He bears no falsehood. There's no untruth in Him. His name is Jesus. In fact, one of His names is Faithful and True! His words are always right. They can be taken at face value --- every time. When He speaks, God Almighty has said it. He is here called --- The Word of God (verse 13).

This is great news, brothers and sisters in Christ! We have placed our confidence in the Faithful and True One, The Word of God! There's no other security like it in the whole universe. The apostle Peter put it like this: "...for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12). Praise the Name of Jesus!

THE "OTHER" WHITE HORSES

I've read it many times but for some reason it never struck me so strong as it just did. The "armies" who follow Jesus, also ride white horses! What a sight that will be! It's awesome to contemplate. Ladies and gentlemen of The Faith, it is Biblically right and proper --- for we are under command of our King --- to walk humbly in this world. Humility, I think, is perhaps God's greatest Christian-character requirement during our earthly plight. But there is a flip side to this. James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He WILL LIFT YOU UP." Jesus put the same principle this way: "...for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself WILL BE EXALTED." Matt. 23:12.

There is a fine line here for Christians to discern. We are not to humble ourselves for the purpose of being exalted; that's not the teaching. But, if we walk humbly in this world, God says in due course of His timing and at His discretion, we will be exalted. Those who ride the other "white horses" with Jesus as described in this passage confirms this understanding.

For some Christians, there are exaltations even in this life. I think God allows this to show us the principle does work --- even here and now. But, prophetically speaking, there is a greater time coming when believers become a part of the "armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, and clean, followed Him on white horses."

There's an old song which says, "O Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in...". That's my hope and I hope it's yours. This is part of the final 'exaltation' God has prepared for those who humble themselves in this age, trusting Christ as their redeemer. Praise God for His plans and provisions he HAS executed, IS executing, and WILL yet execute for those He loves and saves.

THE ROD OF IRON

So, in this age, God expects Christians to be willing to assume low positions of honor. It may go "against the grain" at times, but God declares it righteous. But, when Christ reigns as Lord and King of the earth, things are going to be quite different. During His first advent, Jesus manifested His humility by riding into Jerusalem on the lowliest of animals --- the donkey (a borrowed one at that). However, this will not be so when He makes His appearance at His second advent.

Verse 15 says He will "smite" the nations. The expression, "sharp sword from His mouth" is just another way of saying Jesus is "The Word of God". Jesus will be ruling the world by His spoken words when He is reigning physically as Lord and King of the earth. He will not be submissive then to any man or any earthly kingdom. That condition will be over and done with. A new day will have come. His 'exaltation' will have been perfected.

To make the point even more emphatic, the Scriptures say He "Himself will rule them with a ROD OF IRON." What does this mean? In the next chapter, we shall see who will be here on earth under Christ's rule during the millennium. Whoever it is, this chapter says they shall be ruled sternly. (Note, I didn't say harshly. There's nothing wrong with firm rulership if the King is perfectly righteous and perfectly just.)

JESUS' NAME 'ON HIS THIGH'

The Bible identifies Jesus with many names. Another John saw was a name written "on His thigh" called, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS". The part I want to draw your attention to are the phrases "OF KINGS" and "OF LORDS". This refers to other people. To be a king, you must be ruler over something and someone. These "kings" and "lords" must refer to resurrected and glorified saints who will be reigning with Christ during the millennium.

But the main thing to understand is Who their King is. He is none other than the One who was first born in a stable in lowly Bethlehem, now exalted to the right hand of the heavenly Father, from where He presently reigns as our spiritual King. However, He will ultimately reign in the physical sense here on earth. Another song comes to mind: "Glad day, O glorious day. Glad day, O glorious morning. That will be a glad reunion day."

Rejoice Christians, the King is coming!

THE BEAST AND HIS ARMIES DEFEATED

17 "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,

18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded out of the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh."

One interpretation says the above Scriptures have already been fulfilled. They explain it as having taken place in the early centuries after Christ's ascension. Another view is that this is only a metaphorical picture, already accomplished by Christ's victory over evil "in the heavenlies". Both views avoid the obvious --- that these verses clearly describe an end-time event.

We don't at this time know the names of these "kings", the "captains" and the "mighty men" but we certainly know who their leaders are by title --- the "beast" and the "false prophet". The important thing is that all of them will be defeated by Christ, Who invites His followers to watch the 'battle'!

This final conflict is usally called the "Battle of Armageddon". It will occur in the valley of Megiddo, where the anti-Christ and the False Prophet will have gathered their "armies" to fight Jesus and His armies. I don't think any of us know exactly how all this will work out but we do have specific information on part of it. In other Scriptures we've learned that a 200,000,000-man army will eventually invade the Middle East which surely must be a portion of this fulfillment. The rest will become more obvious as we approach the time of the event itself.

One must consider the recent conflict between Iraq (the modern name for ancient Babylon) and the USA. Another ruthless king has arisen to challenge where God chose to place His primary, two witnesses --- Britain and America. Just as God allowed Nebuchadnezzar and ancient Babylon to come against His people Israel in 606 B.C., He is again allowing another "Nebuchadnezzar" (Saddam Hussein) in our day to confront spiritual Israel.

It is likely for the same reason --- apostasy. Our nations are unquestionably rooted in the Christian faith. But solid, Biblical teaching is on the wane in many of the mainline denominations. Outside the Church, the enemies of God among us are removing prayer, Bible reading and other Christian influences from public schools and other institutions. Be sure that God will not be mocked by this rejection of Him and the mandate these nations were given.

What's the main point here? I think there will never again be a significant period of peace on earth. I believe the Gulf War was merely the first in a series of battles which will lead up to the final one --- Armageddon. The birth pains have begun.

However, when the final battle comes, it will be a no-contest situation. There won't be any great struggle from our side as has been typical of most of the wars in history. Christ the Lord will make quick work of it. Here's how Daniel saw it:

"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, (i.e., no more "batons" to be passed on after this one) but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone (Christ) was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."

Daniel 2: 44 & 45.

Brothers and sisters, we can depend on the Lord Jesus Christ to do what He set out to do. He is that "stone" who will "smite" all the evil kingdoms in the final conflict. We have God's Word on it. Whatever the full scope and splendor is concerning the "beast", the "false prophet", and all their "Captains" and "armies", the conclusion of the matter is plain in terms of who gets the final victory: they will be "cast alive" into the "lake of fire burning with brimstone". And all the other evil people will be "killed with the sword which proceeded out of the mouth of Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) who sat on the horse".

Our mandate today (as always) is to invite people to the "wedding". Christians should not become complacent just because we already possess the great hope. Jesus didn't fall back while on His earthly ministry. He went the extra mile. So should we.