Now the book of Revelation is a vision that has been given to John and it concerns the end times. By the time we arrive at Revelation 19 John has been sharing about the great tribulation. It’s a great book that gives us a glimpse of what is to come, but it is written by a guy who lived 2000 years ago, writing about things that he saw in a vision to help him understand what would be happening at the end of times and the return of Christ. It is not a complete, and clear picture that outlines in detail what is to come. It is more like looking at a fuzzy image that give us simply a glimpse of what to expect. So if you are reading it and struggling to figure it all out, don’t worry, you are not alone.Now what we are going to do today is to just go through this in chunks and add to our timeline along the way and then take a look at what we can get out of this.
Let’s take a look at Revelation 19 verses 1-5 “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”
Revelation 19 contains for us basically the end of the Great tribulation with the defeat of the antichrist and Christ’s return. But I love that this chapter begins with this powerful image of worship. Notice there is this loud voice of a great multitude in Heaven, and we have the 24 elders and the 4 living creature falling down and worshiping God on his throne.It is important for us to start here with this time of worship, because it sets the stage as we move through chapters 19 and 20.
We now move on to the marriage supper of the lamb. Take a look at verses 6 -10: 6 “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said[b] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant[c] with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
So now we see this marriage supper. This is a celebration of the church, the bride, brought together with the bridegroom, Christ. This is what we look forward to when we celebrate communion or the Lord’s Supper together. We are looking forward to the fact that one-day we will sit around that table with him. So that is added to our timeline.
Next comes the rider on the white horse. Take a look at verses 11-21: 11 “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
This is giving us a picture of Christ our coming King. Remember this is the close of the great tribulation period. We talked last week about how Christ’s return is really in two parts. We have the rapture of the church when Christ comes to bring his people to himself. This speaks of Christ coming to earth to end this time of tribulation, defeating this army of the beast and the kings of the earth. The ending picture of the birds gorging themselves is a stark contrast to the celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb. Here we have a powerful image of Christ our coming King.
Now we move on to the millennium in chapter 20, verses 1-6: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”
These verses give us a glimpse into a few things that will happen as part of the millennium. One is that Satan will be bound and thrown into the pit. So there will be no deception from him happening among the nations anymore. We also have the resurrection of those who came to Christ and died during the millennium. And there are these thrones that are set up for these guys who are going to judge as Christ reigns on this earth for a thousand years.
Now it is interesting that Satan is simply bound and not completely dealt with right away, but this will happen later. Take a look at verses 7-10: 7 “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Notice that there is an overwhelming victory that happens in this final battle and Satan is defeated and thrown into the lake of fire.
Then we arrive at the great white throne. Look at verses 11-15: 11 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
So this represents the final judgment. And notice that everyone is judged, but the key is those who have their name written in the book of life will not be thrown in the lake of fire. I know this seems harsh. A lot of people struggle with this concept. But I don’t want to focus on the image of death and suffering in these verses. This passage also talks about life. So when we come to Christ, one of the things that happen is that our name is written in this great book of life. It is on that basis that we are spared from the lake of fire. It is based on Christ’s work, not ours.
Now we finally arrive at a new heaven and a new earth. Look at chapter 21, verses 1-8: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
This closes out our timeline with a new Heaven and a new earth, but while it is the end of the timeline, the line could just continue forever, because this is looking forward to eternity. That is what we have to look forward to. And I love verse 4. What a beautiful picture of eternal life. No more tears, no more death, no more crying, no more pain. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me.
So I think one of the things that learning about Christ our Coming King should do for us, is that is should give us a sense of urgency for those around us who don’t know Christ. It should cause us to remember that Christ is coming again and while we don’t know when that will happen, we do know that this is the next big thing on the timeline. And there are a whole lot of people out there who need to know the good news of Jesus so that they can look forward to this day as well. So that is my challenge for us today.