Revelation 19:1-21 Part 1

REVELATION 19:1-21 Part


1)    After these I heard as a great sound of a multitude in the heaven saying “halleluia the salvation and the glory and the power of our God,

2)    for His judgments are true and just; for He judged the great harlot that corrupted the earth in her fornication and avenged His servants’ blood at her hand.”

3)    Then again they declared “halleluia!  Her smoke ascends into the ages of ages.”

4)    Then the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped The God seated over the throne, saying “Amen!  Halleluia!”

5)    Then there came forth a sound from the throne saying, “all you His servants, the small and the great who are afeared, extol our God!”

6)    Then I heard as sound of a multitude and as sound of many waters and as sound of mighty thunders saying “halleluia!  Kurios the Almighty God reigns!

7)    Rejoicing and celebrating we will give Him the glory, for the wedding feast of the Lamb did come!  And His betrothed did ready herself!

8)    And it was given to her that she be arrayed in pure, bright linen; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the holy ones.”

9)    Then he says to me, “write: ‘blessed the ones called to the wedding feast of the Lamb’”; and says to me, “these true words are from God”.

10) And I fell before his feet to pay homage to him, and he says “see you not do that, for I am the fellow servant of you and your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11) Then I saw the heaven opened and, lo, a white horse; and seated upon it One called Faithful and True, and He judges and wages war in righteousness,

12) His eyes as flaming fire, many diadems on His head, having a written name that is known by no one but Him.

13) He was clothed about – the raiment blood-spattered, and His Name called The Word of God,

14) the armies in the heaven – clothed in pure white linen - following Him on white horses,

15) a sharp sword proceeding from His mouth, that with it He would smite the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron.  And He treads the winepress of the wine of the wrath – the vengeance of Almighty God.

16) And He has a name written on His raiment and on His thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

17) Then I saw one messenger standing in the sun; and it cried out – a great sound – saying to all the birds flying in mid-heaven: “Come!  Gather to the great feast of God

18) that you may eat the flesh of rulers, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of the strong, the flesh of horses and of those sitting upon them, the flesh of all – both free and slave, small and great.

19) Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to wage war with the One sitting upon the horse and His army;

20) and the beast was seized (and with it the false prophet that did the signs before it by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and paid homage to its image); both were cast alive into the lake of fire, being burned in brimstone;

21) and the remaining ones were killed with the sword of the One sitting upon the horse – that which proceeded from His mouth; and all the birds were gorged from their flesh.


There are many things swirling around in my mind that I need to do… to help bring clarity, knowledge and understanding, in order that you are caused to fear, for (as the Scripture says) fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  It’s the starting place.

John hears this mighty sound thundered throughout the tabernacle (verse five) “all you His servants, the small and the great who are afeared, extol our God!”

We’ll spend some more time on it when we come to the verse; but, for our purposes this morning, I had to coin the new word: “afeared”.  His servants are the ones who have been caused to fear.  It’s in the passive voice… so it isn’t something servants do; rather it is something that they receive! 

By Word and Spirit all of the ones who are “afeared” of God (i.e. caused to fear) are the ones who are His servants.  And these same ones are to “extol”, or applaud or magnify, our God; for all His judgments are true and just.

But the thoughts run through my mind like the ticker tape at the stock market… one after another.  I need to do this; I need to do that; this needs some more time; that requires more repetition; clarity is lacking, so the knowledge of the Scripture needs expanding….

Every time we enter another chapter (all of which are continuations of all that came before), there comes an all-new set of anxieties that not enough has been done!  (We’re going on… but maybe we’re not ready to go on.)

I remember twenty-five years ago when David Chilton’s “Days of Vengeance” was published.  It was acclaimed the most thorough exposition of The Revelation ever written… “a massive work” it was said.  It’s five hundred and ninety pages – much of which dealt with symbolism, astrology and Church liturgy.  I don’t know whether David ever preached through the Revelation. 

Most everything that I’ve read indicates that The Revelation is too complex for a sermon series… that it just can’t be made “simple” enough!  When it’s addressed as a series from the pulpit (which is rare), it’s usually something like a chapter a week for twenty-two weeks!

But you see, the task isn’t to make all of this “simple”.  That’s what most preachers would tell you:  “make it simple so everybody can understand it… speak to the level of the children!”  But what would be the purpose in that?  Understand what?

Rather, the challenge is the expansion of our knowledge of the mind and will and purpose of God (as much as He has revealed it); and that doesn’t lend itself to simplicity!   It’s by the Word of God and through the work of Holy Spirit that we’re caused to know Him and to fear Him.  And that, according to verse five, is the defining character of a servant!

It’s my job (with the tools given to me) to bring you the fullness of God’s Word as best I can – and do so in the shortest possible time (considering our propensity to forgetfulness).  It’s that word: “fullness” that produces the anxiety, you see.  “Fullness” and “shortest possible time” are mutually exclusive as far as God’s mind is concerned.

The “shortest possible time” for the apostle/prophet John was (what is now written as) twenty-two chapters of what he was shown while in God’s tabernacle.  And the letter has to do with the entire purpose of God for His creation!  And the elders of the Churches were to preach it and explain it in order that the people of God would gain assurance and faithfulness.

But how does one absorb that?  “The shortest possible time” comes in to play because of our limited abilities to absorb and retain!  And we only have an hour a week!  The level of difficulty therefore is enormous!  How does one absorb it – and then retain it?

It isn’t even in what we would consider “chronological order”.  It’s GOD’s chronology.  He reveals it in His Own order.  He isn’t limited by time as we are.  The Revelation is shown to John by way of “covenantal matters”, you see, rather than sequential events.  And these great matters are entwined and interlaced throughout the narrative of John’s letter AS GOD VIEWS THEM!

Chronology would be helpful to us, since we remember things better that way; but we have to learn how God views them.  And He views them in terms of His covenant!  And all the things of the covenant that are revealed are revealed Scripture-wide rather than in historical sequence!

And as I consider all the things that run constantly through my mind about what needs to be done, I’m reminded of something Sir Winston Churchill said many years ago.  It was said in a totally different context of course, and it had very little Theological content, but he said:  “and in the long run, there is no long run”.

Now, he said that in the context of the war with nazi Germany; and it wasn’t going well for Britain.  They didn’t have much time left.  And we could certainly pick his statement apart Biblically and Theologically.  But, practically speaking, we have a limited period of time to approach the fullness of God’s revealed purpose!  And that’s (at least partially) due to our limitations to absorb and retain. The complexity of it all poses a conundrum.


As the writer to the Hebrews said in his letter to the Jewish Christians in the Churches, they should be way past the “milk”; they ought to be feeding on the meat of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And it’s those things that burden me when we go on to the further things shown to John.  Are we ready to go on?  Have we done enough?  Is there clarity about any of this?  Is there then fear of God; and is it producing wisdom?

And as all of these things race across my mind I get troubled that maybe this is taking too long… or there isn’t enough clarity, and that more explanation is needed, and more repetition and expansion are required.

So, for my personal assurance that I’ve done something more for you (and as we ready ourselves for chapter nineteen), I thought we would profit from periodically re-visiting some of these magnificent concepts – the great Scripture-wide covenantal matters – as John is shown the fullness of His purpose and will.  Hopefully it will help you keep it all together.

We’ve already observed many connections with the entire corpus of Scripture; and we’re able to do that due to the fact that the Revelation is the “capstone” of all that God has said and done in His history.  It is the vast and infinite mind of God revealed!  We just need to review (and do the expansion where we can)… the purpose being a body of believers with knowledge of God’s will and purpose, a Church of Jesus Christ filled with awe and fear of Almighty God, a congregation prepared to witness to the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ over all the heavens and the earth, and a people who hold the testimony of Jesus and keep His Commandments!

We need to know!  We need to have assurance (just as did the Churches that first received John’s letter).  We need to rest secure in our paradise heaven-and-earth – the body of Christ.  And we need to be able to speak with confidence that which is “faithful” and “true”!

And so, the review and expansion… a necessity in my view, which we’ll continue to employ as we go.  Hopefully we can do this often.

So, before we get to the last chapters of John’s letter (in which is revealed the “paradise” – the “new heavens and the new earth” in Christ Jesus) I need to be certain that I’ve done all I can for you with some of these Scripture-wide covenantal matters… one of which is “paradise”.


Now… as was said earlier, God likened His creation of the land of Israel to the creation of His original edenic paradise.  The language of cosmic creation that was (naturally) spoken at the beginning is the very same language that is used in the creation of Israel; and that same language is used in the prophets – and here in the Revelation – in the destruction of His heaven-and-earth – Israel.

Therefore, knowing the mind of God in the fact that He knows the end from the beginning; and that His language is always the same; and knowing that, in His mind, all is covenantally connected, we have to hear and understand the connections… as He sees them and reveals them!

And the first thing that is observed here (one that we’ve already commented on) is that the two “paradises” – the original one and the land of Israel – are revealed by God as being “alike”… similar.  The language used to reveal the one is the same that’s used to reveal the other.

In that both of them reflect the bright glory of God’s Person and His heavenly tabernacle, they have many similarities.  And both of them are prophetic reflections of the paradise-Kingdom of Jesus Christ which, in our text, was “at hand”.  And when we come to the last three chapters of the Revelation, His Kingdom-paradise is revealed in the prophetic language that we’ve heard all along!  And we’ll hear how it all fits together – from the beginning of Genesis, through the prophets, and all the way to the end of John’s Revelation!


There are so many similarities between the original one and the paradise land of Israel.  One of the more striking ones has to do with the incredible beauty and perfections of each.

Moses’ description of the original one (which He received directly from YAHVEH at Mt Sinai) is brief.  But it’s obvious when reading his account that the creation was endowed with magnificent beauty; for it was called into being by the Word of God for His glory.  It reflected His glory.  It was like His tabernacle in the heaven.  God called it “good” (and very good) because, in many ways, it looked like His heavenly tabernacle.

However, there was a creature there, an adult woman who God had made in His Own image (and for His glory).  He had taken her from the man who He had made; they were “one flesh”.  But this image of God in paradise wanted to be “like” God in her own right, and to know what He knows, and to be able to make decisions for herself as to what was right and wrong.  She was “enticed” by the serpent to self-idolatry … to seek independent self-determination as to what was right and wrong, and to what was best for her.

By every Biblical definition, she became the harlot of the serpent.  It enchanted her, and it enticed her; and she submitted.  And then she enticed the man into the same self-idolatry.  And the first family, in the original creation/paradise of God, became a household of harlot-idolators!

And God cursed these two human images of Himself that He had made (and all of their progeny); and He cursed the paradise creation that He had made.  But He also promised a “SEED” from this harlot… a Seed Who would crush the head of the serpent.  And there is the awesome covenant promise of a Savior of cursed, depraved mankind… a “Seed” of depraved humanity.  GOD would do it (not man); God would deliver up a Seed out of cursed humanity that would glorify Him.


And we find the very same language in all the text of Scripture with regard to the paradise land of Israel.  The creation of Israel and the great city of Jerusalem as being a paradise likened to the garden of Eden incorporates all the language of the creation of the cosmos at the beginning.  Israel and its great city shining with the glory of God was the center of all the creation, with its own sun, moon and stars!  It (like the original creation) is described by God as its own cosmic entity… all in the likeness of His tabernacle in the heaven.

It was called the land of plenty… a paradise; for God caused it to reflect His own glory.  It was filled with everything beautiful (as was the original paradise) and given great wealth.  And its herds and trees and vineyards and watercourses produced in great abundance.  And the riches of the world flowed into it.  And the great city itself sat beneath the man-made tabernacle of God with the golden brightness of YAHVEH’s glory.  She had been created like unto the garden of Eden and like unto the tabernacle in the heaven.

But… like the first woman, Israel was a harlot.  All through the Scripture she is “like” Eve.  And as did Eve, Israel ignored God’s Law-word; and she exerted her indulgent self-determination.

As did Eve in the garden, Israel determined that she would not die (as God said she would)… that she would always retain her status as queen of the world; and no matter what these prophets said, she was who she said she was and not what God said she was to be!  In God’s view, she wished to be “I am” (which is the English translation of YAHVEH)!

All through God’s Word, idolatry and harlotry are equated.  Fornication is idolatrous, you see; and idolatry is fornication with false gods.  And it’s that way because Israel is like the first woman.  Eve abandoned her Creator and His Word in order to believe a creature which enticed her; and that’s harlotry.  It’s also idolatry; for she determined for herself what was best for her.

Eve and Adam and the whole creation were cursed by God.  And the two images of God died.  The communion with God was cut off; and they were separated from their Creator in the depths of their depravity.  And death was their judgment.  And God’s creation became a wilderness of briars and thorns.

Like also Israel and the land.  She was an idolatrous harlot that caused all the nations to drink from the passions of the wine of her fornications – just like Eve (for all the nations descended from her fornications!).  And as all of YAHVEH’s prophets said to Israel, she would die the death in the Day of YAHVEH.  But to the very end she believed that she would not die – just like Eve (who believed the serpent when it said “surely you will not die”).

And the land – the paradise of God – would be returned to briars and thorns… a wilderness (like the original creation).  As the prophet said, anyone traveling that way afterward wouldn’t recognize Israel as a habitable place.

What is about to be struck with the burnished flaming sword, and burned in the wrath of God and returned to uninhabitability is all the beauty and riches and wealth of God’s paradise on earth.  It has become a cursed and detestable place for all the reasons that we stated earlier… just like the original paradise.

Because of the beauty and wealth and productivity with which God had bestowed His heaven and earth paradise, all the kings and merchants and ship captains and seamen had come to do business with the harlot; and they were all enchanted by her beauty and enticed by her favors and participated in her idolatrous harlotry.  They all drank of the cup of the wine of her fornications (as did all the nations descending from Eve).

But they would all be astonished, and would mourn for her in the Day of YAHVEH, for she had been the beautiful paradise of the world and the source of all of their riches.

The “Paradise Lost” connection to the original Eden is unmistakable; and the “Seed of the woman” is preserved by God in both cases… as revealed by YAHVEH in Genesis chapter three.

Even though the harlot of the first paradise was cursed and died, God brought forth a seed from her through whom the Savior of the world would be born.  And the harlot of the second paradise – Israel – was cursed and died in the full and perfect wrath of God.  But from her was born the Seed promised in the first paradise – Jesus Christ and His elect from the tribes of Jacob.


The first woman – although she had everything of beauty and perfection, wanted to be “I am”… to be self-determinative… to “know” for herself.  And all that was lovely was removed from her.  And all humanity descending from her was cursed.  But through the pangs and travail of childbirth, she brought forth a seed.

And Israel – although she had everything of beauty and perfection, declared herself to be “I am”… to be self-determinative.  After all, she descended from Eve!  And all that was lovely was destroyed.  But she, too, through the pangs and travail of childbirth, brought forth a seed.


Adam – the father of man-kind and the husband of a harlot – born into the first Eden/paradise, was enticed into disobedience of His Creator-God; and he was cursed.  And he died.

Jesus – called the “Second Adam” – born into the second edenic paradise (a harlot betrothed to Him), was enticed, but He did not disobey The Father; but He, too, was cursed!  And He, too, died!  But this One – the Seed - died to atone for the sins of the world… a seed promised by God through history.  As John the baptizer said when he saw the Christ of God:  “Lo, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”.

It is a formidable doctrine, but one which is invaluable to all who seek to know God and to fear Him, that the carefully enscripted heritage and ancestry of Jesus Christ is filled with cursed and depraved humans – every one of them.  None are excepted!  But that God kept a Seed for Himself as promised.


These are just some of the obvious connections between the first heaven-and-earth paradise and the second one.  And we are, once again, set in wonder at the incomprehensible mind of our God.

And it all gives us pause to wonder just how in the world one is to comprehend a Revelation that reaches as far back as the garden of Eden, and then extends all the way to the judgment of God’s paradise land of Israel… and then into the new heaven and the new earth in Christ Jesus.  It’s far-and-away more than our capacity….

But wonder as we might, by Word and Spirit we are to hear it and receive it and delight in it.  And then we are to rest in it contentedly and faithfully.  It is the mind of Almighty God, you see.  It is as He sees it, as He observes it, as He created it, and as He brings it all to its fullness for His Own glory!  And it’s why we have to spend enough time to know it.


But regarding that first paradise let’s see further that God, having cursed mankind, and having cursed the creation itself, placed a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life.  No depraved man, by his own way, would ever approach life.  No man would ever attain to life by his own means.  There would never be a paradise of man’s own making.

And it should be no surprise whatever that the entire Word of God prophesies the terminal end of the second paradise by the burnished sword of God!  The harlot Israel determined for herself that she was the eternal utopia – the hope of life for all nations.  She had declared herself “I AM”… the one enriching all the nations with her wealth and beauty.

But as God had done with four previous world-wide dominions that sought to establish paradise on earth, the sword of Almighty God cut off Israel’s aspirations to be the “tree of life” for the world.

Those four dominions (called “beasts” by God) aspired to be “saviors” of the nations of the earth.  Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome sought to produce utopias… world-wide utopias.  The first of those – Babylon – was world-famous for its magnificent “gardens” – seeking to build that “Eden” on earth for the world.  But all four of the beasts wished to be “as God” and produce paradise on earth – to bring life to all the world!

And it is revealed by God throughout Scripture that the ultimate goal of them all was the use of the sword to cut off the seed of the woman so that God’s paradise would not come to be!  The goal was a world-wide paradise of their own making and for their own glory.  And to do that meant the cutting off (by the sword), the cutting off of God’s promised paradise – the one promised in the garden of Eden, the one promised to Noah, the one promised to Abraham, the one promised to David, and the one originally promised to the Son of God/Son of Man!

In order to establish man’s paradise on earth, the Kingdom/Paradise of the Seed of the woman had to be cut off.  And it was attempted, all through history, by the sword!  But… by the Sword of God, each of them perished… including the harlot – Israel!  The Sword of God had been placed before the tree of life – to guard it in order that no man could achieve life by his own design.

These are magnificent covenantal matters, you see!!  And we must not miss them… no matter how long it takes.


And we certainly have to extend the hatred of God’s paradise to the present age!  Cursed and depraved mankind still aspires to produce his own utopia/paradise on earth in opposition to God’s paradise!  In one form or another that’s been going on for the last two millennia.

At the present there are two conflicting world-views struggling with one another for supremacy as they oppose our Lord’s Kingdom/Paradise.  They have something in common in that they both want to cut off the Kingdom/Paradise of Jesus Christ and bring in a utopia of their own making; but the “commonality” ends right there!

One of those conflicting world-views is fully founded on the false prophecy that the Messiah of the world is to be born of the Jews and will rule the world from the dome of the rock in Jerusalem.  And in order to stop that from happening and to set up their own paradise on earth, Jews have to be eliminated.  Then all others have to be either killed or placed in subjection to the law of their utopia.  And let it be known that, by guile or by force, that is the vision of every single one that holds to the words of that false prophet!  The vision is a third world-wide paradise of their own making.


The present-day world view that is in conflict with that one is equally malevolent to the Kingdom/Paradise of Jesus Christ.  In a utopia/paradise of its own making, in this world view all the nations and tribes and tongues and peoples must share equally in all things.  In a man-made utopia, no one can be permitted to have more than the others.  It’s only in a classless society in which all share equally that there can be true happiness.

And they must be few in number in order to sustain nature in a pristine condition!  There can be no paradise without a pristine environment!  These three things, then, are the critical issues: redistribution, population control, and environmental controls.

By guile or by force, all must submit to the architecture of this paradise.  It is a priceless goal of all of history, you see – a third world-paradise; so whatever means necessary to achieve it are justified!  And since it is the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that must be “cut off” in order to bring in this man-made paradise on earth, Christianity is “unacceptable”.

So, you see, even in the grand, world-wide conflict which is in progress as we speak (as to how a utopia is to be brought into being on the earth) there is this one commonality between them… that the (quote-unquote) “judeo-christian” religion has to be relegated to the ash-heap of history.  It has to be “cut off”.

By guile – insidious cunning, craftiness and deception (as in the garden of Eden); and, when necessary, by the sword (as with Babylon and Persia and Greece and Rome), these two present-day, malicious world-views will do their best to find and produce “life” on their own terms.

But remember that God stationed that flaming sword before the way to the tree of life.  And no man can achieve life for himself; nor can any creature; nor can any nation; nor any world view.  There is a cursed depravity permeating every fiber.

And as with the first four beasts of history, God is using these two competing world-views for His Own glory.  They derive from their satanic origins – both descending from idolatry, craft, deceit and sorcery; and God will have them in derision.  For what do we see in the text of chapter nineteen?  The One with the Sword!

The sharp, two-edged, burnished Sword, guarding the way of life, is proceeding from His mouth (verse fifteen)… first to the execution of the betrothed harlot; and then to the smiting of the nations.  It is the Word of God that shattered and scattered the fourth beast so that its intended world utopia would be crushed.

And all competitors will meet the same end.  The way of life is in Him.  He IS Way; He IS Truth; He IS Life!  His is the paradise prophesied by the garden of Eden and by God’s paradise heaven-and-earth Israel.  And the beasts of history, and the competing world-views of the last two millennia are raised up by God in order that He might show His power and manifest His glory.  They will all suffer an ignominious end; and by the further work of the Christ of God, all of God’s creation will shine with the perfections of His glory.