Revelation 19:11-21

Revelation 19:11-21

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

In this lesson we see the King of kings victorious at Armageddon.

OUTLINE

Armageddon is one of those biblical words that has been absorbed into the language of many cultures. Used often, it is rarely used in its biblical context. Unfortunately, many will discover too late that Armageddon is going to be the worst conflagration ever visited upon planet earth.

I    The Advent of Christ

II.  The Armies of Christ

III. The Authority of Christ

IV. The Avenging of Christ

     A.   The Fowls of Heaven

     B.   The Foes of Heaven

 

OVERVIEW

   Starting in Revelation 4, we have seen planet earth ruined by men and ruled by Satan, but in this lesson we will see the world reclaimed by Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us we are not to know the date of the return of Christ only that we are to know for a certainty that it is going to happen. The only "when" we know is that it will be seven years after the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture starts the End-Time prophetic clock ticking; but since we don't know the date of that event we don't know the dates of the events dependent on it.

   The Bible is filled with references to the Second Coming of Christ-1,845 references in all. It is emphasized in 17 Old Testament books, and 70 percent of the chapters of the New Testament make reference to it. Christ Himself said He would return, as did angels who spoke to the apostles at Christ's ascension into heaven.

This abundance of evidence does not keep scoffers from asking, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Peter 3:4) That question is answered in Revelation 19:11-16--and forms the focus of our study in this lesson.

   If the Bible makes anything clear, it is that the Second Coming of Christ will be a glorious event which all of the world will witness, believers and unbelievers alike. Christ said His coming would be like the lightning that begins in the east and shines to the west illuminating the whole of the heavens (Matthew 24:27). His coming will illumine the dark days at the end of the Tribulation like lightning illumines the pitch-black darkness of a violent thunderstorm. Riding on a white horse in the midst of that lightning will be found the King of kings Himself accompanied by all the saints.

THE ADVENT OF CHRIST

   The fact that John sees the door of heaven open in Revelation 19:11-13 is significant. The first time it was opened was in Revelation 4:1, so the Church might enter heaven at the Rapture. We have no mention of the door opening since. Now it is opened for a second time, so the saints can return to earth accompanying their Lord. It opens first for the Rapture and secondly for the revelation. And by way of review, the Rapture is that event which we are waiting for at the present time, when the Church is taken from earth to be with the Lord during the period of the seven-year Tribulation.

   The revelation of Jesus Christ however, is when He is revealed in all His glory to come and destroy the enemies of God at Armageddon and set up the kingdom of God on earth. There are some notable differences between the two events:

           Rapture: Christ comes for His saints.

           Revelation: Christ comes with His saints.

           Rapture: the Church meets Jesus in the air.

           Revelation: Jesus descends to earth, to the Mount of Olives.

           Rapture: coming of the Lord with blessing in mind.

           Revelation: coming of the Lord with judgment in mind.

           Rapture: imminent.

           Revelation: always no less than seven years away (from the Rapture).

   Verse 11 tells us a name which Christ is called, "Faithful and True," one of three in this chapter (the others being "Word of God" and "King of kings and Lord of lords"). Besides His names, the attributes represented by His appearance and clothing are important as well. His eyes are flames of fire (1:14; 2:18) which burn up all that is false as He gazes upon the hearts and minds of mankind. His many crowns speak of His sovereignty, that no one is above Him in rule.

   His robe dipped in blood speaks of the redemption He secured for us on the cross as the Lamb that was slain. For all eternity we will celebrate the shed blood which brought about our redemption from the penalty of sin.

    Revelation 1:7 says that "every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him." People have asked me how this could possibly take place. In today's technological world it does not seem hard to figure out with satellite and cable television all over the world. But some do not believe it has anything to do with that. Rather it will simply be His glory that will be visible from anywhere on earth. Somehow, through technology or the radiance of His glory, all of the world will know that Jesus has returned. But He does not return alone.

THE ARMIES OF CHRIST

   The Bible says when Christ returns He will bring with Him an army. Every believer who died before the Rapture, or went up to be with the Lord at the Rapture, will return with Him. The purpose of our coming with Him is to help execute judgment upon those who have denied Christ during the Tribulation (Jude 14-15). The 144,000 witnesses preached to them, God's two faithful witnesses preached to them, and plenty of Bibles and Christian literature were around by which to discover the truth, but they did not. And with the return of Christ and His armies, judgment will come (see also 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

   Note the word in Revelation 19:14 is armies—plural. It is not the "army" of heaven but the "armies." We do not know exactly the significance of that but it could represent Old Testament saints, New Testament saints, and Tribulation saints all combined in one giant "army" of the Lord. More important than who they are is how they are dressed. These armies go into battle dressed in pure white garments, strange from a military perspective. The reason is that they will not go into battle to fight like our modern soldiers do. In fact they will be spectators who watch the Battle of Armageddon end simply by the words coming from Jesus' mouth.

THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST

   In Revelation 1:16 we read about the "sharp two-edged sword" coming from Christ's mouth as He was prepared to levy judgment upon the seven churches. In Revelation 19:1546, on the way to further judgment we see Him again with a sword coming out of His mouth. This sword does not represent the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Rather, sword is used symbolically to represent a sharp instrument of war with which Christ will smite the nations and establish His absolute rule. The rod of iron denotes absolute sovereignty in His reign as King of kings (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27).

   As Christ leads forth His armies in victory, John sees a name written on His thigh, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." We are familiar with this double name, but now is the time it takes on its intended significance. Of all the kings on earth, He is the King. Of all earthly lords (rulers, those in authority), He is the Lord. Every knee will bow before Him when He comes to earth (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). He will fulfill the wonderful prophecy we review every Christmas: "The government will be upon His shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6).

THE AVENGING OF CHRIST

   The vengeance Christ brings upon the enemies of God is presented in an unusual way in verses 17-21. The fowls of heaven and the foes of heaven are the two metaphors John uses to convey what will happen when Christ comes.

The Fowls of Heaven

   In his vision, John sees an angel standing in the sun crying out with a loud voice to all the birds of heaven to gather for a great feast. There is a terrible sense of foreboding as these birds of prey are called to come and clean up the flesh of the mighty men who will be killed in the Battle of Armageddon. The word for birds is the word orneois which is literally translated as "vulture." All the vultures of earth are invited to come and feast on the carcasses of those who fall before the sword of the Lord. Notice that those who fall in baffle are the "mighty men" of earth, the captains and kings, along with "the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great" (19:18).

I hope you have noticed there are two suppers in Revelation 19. There is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and there is "the supper of the great God" (19:17). The former is a time of great rejoicing and celebration, while the latter is a time of wailing and lament as those who fall in the battle against Christ are consumed. Someone has said we get to take our choice of which supper to attend. Those who choose to put their trust for eternity in Christ will attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. But those who reject His Gospel, His invitation of love and grace, and who survive the Tribulation period, will attend the supper of the great God. You would not eat the food, but you would be the food—food for the vultures of heaven which will come to clean up the remains of the battle. And they apparently go away satisfied (19:21).

The Foes of Heaven

   It is amazing here, as well as all throughout the book of Revelation, that mankind continues to gather together to make a stand against the God who created him. But the Antichrist (the Beast) and the kings of the earth and the pitiful souls following them into battle gather together one last time to try to defeat Jesus Christ. Their army will be made up of the kings and soldiers of the ten nations of the revived Roman Empire, as well as the False Prophet. The Antichrist leads the way in defying Christ's authority and right to rule—the ultimate rebellion against God. All the rebellion of the prior seven years comes to a head at the Mountain of Megiddo, the Battle of Armageddon. The degree of judgment meted out will be directly comparable to the degree of rebellion the Antichrist has fomented during the Tribulation period. His judgment will be terrible because his acts have been terrible.

   The battle is joined in verse 20, and immediately the Beast and the False Prophet are "captured." This word is very interesting, providing a picture of the Lord reaching out and snatching them— grabbing them by the scruff of the neck, as we might say in our modem language. It is as if the Lord has had enough of their rebellion and puts an end to it immediately once the battle begins. And their fate is as infamous as their deeds. They become the first two residents of hell: "These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (19:20). People who die rejecting the Lord do not go straight to hell; they go to a place known as Hades. But the Beast and False Prophet go straight to hell, even before Satan, who does not arrive until the end of the thousand-year Millennium. When he arrives there, the Beast and False Prophet are still there, where "they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (20:10).

   It would be wrong for us to be callous or casual about the horrific events in store for many of our fellow human beings. As we watch for His appearing, we should live with a careful attitude toward our own lives and a compassionate attitude toward those who don't know Christ. Here are ten things the Word of God says we should do to maintain purity and holiness:

     1.    Refrain from judging others (1 Corinthians 4:5).

     2.    Remember the Lord's table (1 Corinthians 11:26).

     3.    Respond to life spiritually (Colossians 3:1-4).

     4.    Relate to one another in love (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

     5.    Restore the bereaved (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

     6.    Recommit ourselves to the ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

     7.    Refuse to neglect church (Hebrews 10:24-25).

     8.    Remain steadfast (James 5:7-8).

     9.    Renounce sin in our lives (1 John 2:28-29).

    10.   Reach the lost (Jude 21-23).

   Have you made your choice as to which banquet you want to attend? There's an eternity of difference between being invited to supper and being had for supper. I know for a certainty which supper I plan to attend and which one I plan to avoid. I hope you do as well.