Brief Exposition of Revelation 19

Revelation 19
Revelation 19 begins with the greatest outburst of joy recorded thus far in the book. Much people in heaven praise God; the four and twenty elders, and the four living creatures, fall down, and worship God that sits on the throne, saying, “Amen; Alleluia.”
At the bidding of the voice from heaven all God's servants, small and great, are called upon to praise God, and respond with one voice as of a great multitude, as of many waters, as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
But not only is there joy in the destruction of the false bride, but joy in the marriage of the true Bride. For the first time since we left the consideration of “the things which are”—that is, the Church period ending with the rapture—we see the saints of this present dispensation presented to us as the Church. True, the four and twenty elders in heaven are mentioned repeatedly, but as we have seen, that term must include the Old Testament believers as well as those of the New Testament, and therefore they are looked upon as representative of all believers, and the Church, as such, is not presented to us in this way. But here we have the Church as the Bride presented to us. The time of her marriage and public display is at hand.
This significant event of the marriage of the Lamb is given us in two verses, but it is of the deepest importance. The wife makes herself ready and is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. This we are told is the righteousness (or righteousnesses) of the saints—the product of God's work by His Spirit in the lives of His people, now seen in display for the eye of the Bridegroom. It is not here the righteousness of God which is upon all them that believe, but practical righteousnesses in the lives of the believers. The plural—the correct rendering—righteousnesses—is significant. Becoming attire for the Bride, yet it entirely redounds to the glory of the Bridegroom.
Then verse 9 gives us the blessedness of the guests—those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In this blessedness, angels and saints—Old Testament saints, and martyred saints in connection with the temptation that comes upon all the earth—will partake.
Never again in the Book of Revelation do we read of the four and twenty elders. The reason is not far to seek. Hitherto, since we considered the book from Revelation 4, there has been no need to differentiate between the Old Testament believers and those of the New Testament. But now, with the introduction of the Bride, and the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb, the distinction is necessary.
So after introducing us so remarkably and distinctly to the Bride, the angel bids John write, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb,” thus indicating the blessed portion of the Old Testament believers and others, as we have seen. John the Baptist described himself as the friend of the Bridegroom, and in so doing described the whole of the believers in the Old Testament dispensation. The Bride is still closer to the Bridegroom, but how favored are the friends of the Bridegroom, and how supremely satisfied they will be with this favor.
At the sight of all this blessedness John falls at the feet of the angel, and worships. But the angel reminds John that he is but a fellow-servant, and that his testimony, like John's, is of Jesus, and that testimony is the spirit of prophecy.
The whole Book of Revelation is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:22Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Revelation 1:2) speaks of it as “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” That this the spirit of prophecy is true, as all prophecy leads up to the unfolding that this book contains.
From verse 11 to 21 we get a description of the battle of Armageddon. Vast hosts will be gathered to Palestine under the sixth vial, as also under the sixth trumpet, which we believe are coterminous. Armageddon (meaning the hill Megiddo) gives a topical name to this fight.
It is very interesting that Zechariah, describing the deep and abject repentance of Jerusalem as the result of the great tribulation, likens it to “the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.”*
Note the last proud assault of vast contending armies before the Millennium is set up. Jerusalem is the prize in view. It is called the battle of Armageddon (the hill Megiddo); whereas the place of repentance and restoration for Israel is likened to mourning in the valley of Megiddo.
How true it is that every valley shall be exalted and every hill brought low, that repentance leads to blessing and uplifting, and pride and rebellion bring abasement and destruction.
A new thing happens now. Hitherto Christ has only appeared, we believe, in John's vision, in angelic form in connection with governmental judgments upon earth. Here He intervenes in person. He is presented to us under names and by descriptions that present His person in all its majesty and power. The heart is awed as we read it.
He comes as the Deliverer of His earthly people, and as the Judge and Destroyer of their enemies, only that judgment here takes the form of war and utter extermination.
He comes on a white horse, bespeaking victory, and victory that leaves nothing doubtful. All the casualties are on one side. We shall presently see their nature.
He is called “Faithful and True.”
He is presented to us in the opening of the Book as “the Faithful Witness”—witness in His beautiful life to God in His nature and attributes.
He is presented as “He that is holy, He that is true,” in the address to the Philadelphian Church.
But here His titles have to do with judgment. There is nothing vindictive or capricious in these truly awful happenings. God's character in righteousness is upheld by these judgments. They are necessary. They must be. They cannot be otherwise. “ In righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire” (vs.s 11 and 12). His discernment can pierce through every sham and subterfuge. He makes no mistakes. Sin and judgment are perfectly equipoised by Him; sin—as offense against God's holiness; judgment—as sin's due reward.
“On His head were many crowns” (diadema), that is, the crowns of the Ruler, the Monarch, the Despot.
Only thrice is this word used in Scripture. The great red dragon, the Devil, has seven crowns upon his heads, complete yet undisplayed assumption of power; the beast, the head of the revived Roman Empire, has ten crowns upon his horns, fullest responsibility of earthly and displayed power, yet assumed. Their triumph must be but short-lived. Their blasphemous assumption must cease. Their crowns are taken from them by His hand.
Only one head can rightly wear the diadem, and it is His. The number of crowns on the heads of the Dragon and the horns of the Beast can be counted. But His cannot be counted. “On His head were many crowns.” How worthy is He of every crown that decks His brow. “He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself.” Instinctively we are reminded of His own words: “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father” (Matt. 11:2727All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)). We know Him, but we shall never know the inscrutability of His person. The attempt to pry into this has always led to sorrow and confusion, whoever has made the attempt. The reverent mind accepts the limitation the Lord Himself puts upon our knowledge in this direction. Jesus is very God. What a statement! He is very Man. Yet His person is One. We have the testimony of Scripture as to this. We cannot understand how it can be. It is because Scripture states it. Reason however penetrative, intellect however subtle, cannot pass this barrier. As the Christian poet happily sang:
“It is darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.”
We can bow in adoring worship at the feet of Him who is God and Man, one glorious Person. “He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood,” speaks of the character of His work and judgment—not sessional, as in Matthew 24, but retributive as in war. “His name is called the Word of God.”
How the Spirit of God lingers with delight over each detail.
Heavenly armies follow Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, clean and white. They follow in His train. He alone has the vesture dipped in blood. His followers are on white horses, and arrayed in white. No hate of man can touch them. No earthly artillery can reach them. As at the cross.
“The mighty work was all His own.
Though we shall share His glorious throne,”
so here the mighty work of judgment will be all His own, though the heavenly armies will share in the joy of victory.
Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that He should smite the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron. He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. “He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Terrible sight for His foes. Happy sight for His persecuted earthly people thus to behold the might and majesty of their Deliverer.
Following on this glorious description of Christ, an invitation is given by an angel standing in the sun, that is as authorized by supreme and heavenly power, inviting the fowls to the supper of the great God that they may eat the flesh of captains, of mighty men, of horses, and their riders, of all men whether free or bond, small or great.
In one short verse we have the gathering of the Beast and the Kings of the Earth, and their armies, to make war against Christ and His army.
There is no detailed account of the battle; only the result of it is given to us. Two prisoners are taken, the Beast and the false Prophet, the Antichrist, and both are cast alive into the lake of fire. They will be the first recorded occupants of that place prepared for the Devil and his angels. The rest, the prodigious armies of the Beast and the Kings of the Earth, are slain by the breath of the Lord, reminding us, though on a much larger scale, of the occasion when 185,000 Assyrians were smitten by the angel of the Lord (see 2 Kings 19:3535And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (2 Kings 19:35)). Thus ends the great battle of Armageddon as seen in this Book.