The Final Message
THE FINAL MESSAGE
Revelation 22: 10-21
This morning we are going to finish the book of Revelation…and what is interesting is the book of Revelation ends much the same way it began.
- At the beginning of the book John tells us the context of this book…he tells us when the things written in this book are to take place.
- And here in this last chapter he does it again.
- It is as though he is trying to stress the context that this book is to be interpreted in by saying it at the beginning and at the end…and yet, most people completely ignore what John says.
Let’s go through this and let me show you what I mean. Look at verse 10:
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
- What does this say to you? If you lived in 79 A.D. which is about the time this book was written…and you read this…”that the time is near”…would you understand it to be talking about something that is going to take place in the year 2000…or 2050…or at the end of time?
- If you are told that “the time is near” you would be thinking that the things written in this book were about to take place.
- And yet, here we are nearly 2000 years after this was written and some people want you to believe that what was written in this book still hasn’t taken place!
John says here: “…for the time is near.”
- The word “near” is also translated “at hand”…”is nigh.”
- Now, if some thing is “at hand”…that means it is close.
- The book of Revelation was written to tell these Christians that God is about to bring forth the things He speaks of in this book.
Notice, once again, he says that this book is a “prophecy.”
- Biblical prophecy…by its very nature…dealt with the problems or situation at the time it was spoken.
- Prophecy always sounded a warning of a coming judgment or destruction.
- And prophecy always called the people to repentance.
- Again, the fact that this is a prophecy indicates that the events of this book are to take place soon after it was written.
And notice, John is told by the angel, “Do not seal up the prophecy of this book.”
- Back over in the book of Daniel, Daniel is told just the opposite.
Dan 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”
Daniel is told to “seal up the vision” because what he has seen is to take place in the “distant future.”
- But John is told not to “seal up” what he has seen…why?
- Because what he has seen is to “shortly take place.”
In verse 6 of chapter 22 John is told that the things written in this book are to “shortly take place.”
- In verse 7 Jesus says that He is “coming quickly.”
- In verse 10 here, John is told that “the time for these things is near…do not seal it up.”
- In verse 12 the Lord once again says, “I am coming quickly.”
- And then in verse 20 He says it again.
- Do you think the Lord is trying to tell us when these things are going to take place? Is He not giving us the context in which the things of this book are to be interpreted?
- To ignore these statements…is to be blatantly unfair with this book.
- This book was written somewhere around 79 A.D….it was written in reference to the issues of the day…it was written to warn of a coming judgment…and it was written to call God’s people to repentance and to encourage the faithful to remain faithful.
- Everything spoken of in this book has already taken place.
- This book was never a prophecy about Nazi Germany…the Cold War…the war between Israel and Egypt…the Vietnam War…the Gulf War…the War in Iraq…or Isis.
- We must keep the book in its context…to do other wise will cause people to believe many things that are simply not true.
Back to verse 10. John is told that the time for the things in this book to take place “is near.”
Now verse 11: “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”
On its own this is a difficult verse to understand…but combined with the next verse it becomes more evident as to what it means.
- Look what he says in verse 12: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Keep doing what you are doing if you choose too.
- Let the wrong keep doing wrong…and the filthy keep being filthy.
- And the righteous and holy keep being righteous and holy.
- Keep doing what you choose to do.
- But remember this: Every man is going to reap according to what he has sown.
- The man who does wrong…he will reap what wrong doing deserves.
- The man who does what is righteous and holy…he will reap what the righteous and holy deserves.
- The Lord is coming and He will render to every man the just reward he deserves.
Rev 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
- He is the beginning and the end…therefore he is in the position to know the certainty of the fulfillment of the just reward that each man will receive.
And look at the rewards mentioned in the next two verses: 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
Notice he speaks of those who “wash their robes.”
- What does he mean when he speaks of those who “wash their robes”?
- Well, we are told back in chapter 7:13 and 14. Look at the verse:
13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?” 14 And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
This is who they are…they are the ones whose sins were washed clean by the blood of Christ and who have remained faithful to Christ in spite of the persecution.
- Those people are “blessed” and have the “right to the tree of life” and are citizens of the holy city…or church; Rev. 21.
But those who have not washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb…and who did not remain faithful to Christ…or who served the beast?
“Outside are the dogs…
- Now, he is not talking about house pets…or the kind of dog we might keep in our yard.
- Look up dogs in a Bible Concordance some time and you will find that dogs in scripture ran in packs, and were scurvy, mangy animals that were totally unpleasant.
- John associates these kinds of dogs with people.
He says: “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
- When this judgment comes on Rome…and Christ says it is “coming shortly”, everyone is going to receive their just reward.
- There will be no mistakes…there will be no exceptions…
- Jesus is the “Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end”…He is in position to see that these things are justly fulfilled.
In fact, look at the next verse:
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
- If there was any doubt that Jesus had risen and was alive…
- If there was any doubt that what John was seeing here was from the Lord…
- This verse is intended to remove that doubt.
- When Jesus says “I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star”, He is saying that He is the redeemer promised in the Old Testament Scriptures.
- He is the fulfillment of OT prophecy.
And notice, Jesus says that He “sent His angel to testify to you these things for the churches.”
- Judgment is coming…and those churches that have remained faithful…they can be assured of “life.”
- But those who are “lacking”…well, they need to get things in order.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
- Who is the bride? Well, back in chapter 21: 9 and following he tells us.
- It is the “new Jerusalem” or the “glorious church.”
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
- All the blessings of the river of the waters of life are available to all who will come.
And now, the conclusion and one final warning: Vs. 18:
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
- Don’t ignore what the book says…don’t deny it…and don’t add to it to excuse yourself.
- If you tamper with the prophecy to make it say what it doesn’t…or to make it not say what it does…you will be punished by God.
And I want you to notice in verse 19 that we are told that “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy…that God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city.”
- This warning is apparently specifically aimed at some of these Christians…not to tamper with this book.
- Once again, here is a passage that says that the “child of God” can be lost.
Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
- John liked the news of the book so much that he adds his “amen”…his approval to it.
- And then notice, John recognizes Jesus as who He really is and that is LORD.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
That concludes the book of Revelation. It is an encouraging book in that it tells us that the God we serve is sovereign and not some human king or emperor.
- It is encouraging in that it tells us that the Lamb, even though slain, still lives…and because He does…we too have life available to us.
- It is encouraging in that it tells us that our faith in the Lamb is not in vain…that no matter what persecutions we endure we will be victorious.
- And it is encouraging in that it tells us that we will be vindicated.
But there are also some serious warnings in this book for all of us.
- Each man will receive his just rewards…you serve the beast…and destruction is yours…you serve the Lamb…and it will be life.
- There is a warning in the book to repent. Just like judgment came on Rome…a great final judgment is coming…and how tragic it will be if you are found lacking.
- And there is a warning in the book about the danger of forsaking the Lamb and losing your faith.
And then there are some tremendous insights in the book.
- One insight is that God can and does uses many different resources to bring about his judgments.
- He can use natural disasters, man’s own sin, armies, and plagues.
- But no matter what may come…He takes care of those who are His.
There is so much more to be learned from this book…but as we close let me remind you the things of this book were to take place shortly after it was written.
The Conclusion of Blessing and Promise
CONCLUSION OF BLESSING AND PROMISE
And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street
- Notice the “and”? The “and” connects this to what came before in the previous chapter.
- And in the previous chapter we saw a vision of “the glorious city…or the glorious church.”
- The “church” or the redeemed of God have been faithful through out their fiery ordeal and in the sight of God they are precious.
- And here in chapter 22 God continues to encourage those who have been faithful to Him.
- This is language of blessing and reassurance for those who remain faithful to God no matter what.
So he says: And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street.
- People living in a desert area know how refreshing a “crystal clear river of water can be.”
- It gets hot and dry…you get hot and thirsty…and the sight of crystal clear water is something you can hardly wait for.
These Christians, under the rule of Rome, have gone through a desert worse than any we have known.
- They have been persecuted and executed…and they are wondering if putting their faith in Christ has been a foolish thing.
- And God reassures them here that their faith is not in vain by speaking of something they would understand and that is “water.”
- They understood that because they too lived in a desert area.
- But this isn’t just “water”…this is “water of life” which would be even more refreshing to those who have been living in a desert of severe persecution.
- This is here to tell them that their faith is not in vain…and even though they might suffer…perhaps even die…they will drink from the “water of life.”
- They will live even though they die.
And notice where this “river of the water of life” comes from.”
- “It comes from the throne of God and of the Lamb…”
- The “throne” here speaks of God’s authority…and the fact that the “water of life” comes from His throne speaks of mercy and grace.
- And what this says here is those who allow God to rule over their lives…those people will receive what He gives in mercy and grace and that is “the water of life.”
- Those who do not bow to His authority…who do not obey Him…and serve Him…will not drink from this water.
Now, this “water of life” is not the only thing that the people of God have access too. Look at vs. 2:
And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
- Notice the number 12…once again 12 is the number of God’s people.
- This fruit from the “tree of life” is provided for the people of God.
And notice, this tree yields its fruit “every month.” That would be 12 times a year.
- Over and over again we are being told that these blessings are for the people of God.
- And they are a continuous, ongoing, never ending blessing.
And then he says: …and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
- The fruit is for the inhabitants of the city…or the people of God…but here the leaves are for the nations.
- The blessings of this tree are for the inhabitants of the city…and yet, others have the opportunity to share in these blessings if they only will.
Look at verse 17: And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
Here you have the Spirit and the bride…or the church…inviting all to drink of the water of life.
- It is a “fountain free”…available to all that will come.
- But if they refuse to come…if they refuse to be “washed clean” (21: 27) there will be no life.
So the fruits of the tree of life in verse 2 are for the inhabitants of the city…or for God’s people…but all people are invited to share in the blessings.
Let’s quickly hit on a concept that is taught out of this passage.
- Many want to say that this is speaking of eternity…or heaven.
- How can that be?
- If the leaves are for the healing of the nations…where do the nations come from?
- Is this tree something that the “nations” can eat from after the judgment has taken place?
- And if this takes place in “eternity”…then what is it the nations need to be healed from?
- If it is in “eternity” it must be a “spiritual” healing.
- So the people who say this is talking about eternity or heaven…are they saying that people who are lost before eternity…can then be saved after eternity begins?
Obviously that is not going to take place…so what that means is, this cannot be talking about eternity…or heaven.
- This is a message that was specifically for the Christians at the time to reassure them that even though they were suffering at the hands of Rome…and perhaps might even die…eternal life was theirs if they would remain faithful.
- And it was also intended to let others know that they too could share in the “water of life” if they would only come.
3 And there shall no longer be any curse;
- There are several possibilities with this phrase.
- But the point is: For the faithful church of God…there is no curse…there is only LIFE!
3 And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; 4 and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.
- “To see His face” speaks of communion or fellowship.
- Remember over in 2 Samuel 15 when Absalom was allowed to come back to Jerusalem but wasn’t allowed to see his father’s face?
- That indicated that there was no fellowship…no communion.
Here, those who remain faithful to God and the Lamb…who allow God and the Lamb to rule their lives…those people can be assured of communion or fellowship with God and the Lamb.
- And the significance of His name on their foreheads indicates “possession.”
- We saw this back in chapter 7:3.
Rev 22:5 And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.
- Since the Lord dwells in the city and the city depends on Him for their light…then this is a night-less city.
- No darkness, no gloom or evil are found here.
Rev 22:6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; (in other words, “You can depend on it.”
…and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.
- Do you see the statement, “things which must shortly take place”?
- Any one who ignores this statement when determining the meaning of this book is not being fair to the book.
- We saw this at the very beginning…and here it is once again.
- The things written in this book “must shortly take place.”
7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- Again, the word “quickly” indicates that the judgment mentioned in this book was something that would soon begin to take place.
- And he says once again that this book is a prophecy.
- The nature of prophecies is a prophecy deals with the problems of it’s time.
- It deals with calling people to repentance.
- And it sounds a warning or a judgment on those who are enemies of God.
- The things spoken of in this book were written for the people of its day…to encourage them…to warn them…and to pronounce judgment on their enemies.
- The indication is that the writings of this revelation have already come to pass.
Rev 22:8 And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.
- These Christian knew John…and so by putting is name here he is confirming to these brethren the authenticity and authority of this book.
And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he said to me, “Do not do that;
- I think there is two things we can get from this.
- One, we are not to worship angels.
- And two, if angels are not to be worshipped…then why would anyone think it is ok to worship a human being…especially some blasphemous emperor of Rome.
And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God.”
- Only God can deliver…therefore, only God is worthy of our worship.
The Glorious Church
THE GLORIOUS CHURCH
When you get to chapter 21 of Revelation the world of the wicked which existed in the Roman Empire has been destroyed…the world of those who have served the beast has completely been dismantled.
- But prior to this judgment that is coming on Rome…as well as in the midst of this judgment, the Lord’s church has suffered and had to endure a lot.
- The saints have been persecuted…they have been made sport of…they have died.
- But the fact that the “church” has remained faithful through out has made them a beautiful bride in the eyes of God…and that is what we are going to now see in the last 18 verses of chapter 21.
So, let’s look at this. Now keep in mind, this is language of blessing…it is a vision…and this is not something that is going to literally take place.
- Also, it is not a description of heaven.
- This is a description of the beauty of the “bride of Christ” or the church…or those who remained faithful through out their fiery ordeal.
- Look at verse 9:
And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
- There is no reason to doubt or speculate about what we are about to see.
- The angel tells John he is going to be shown “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
- And we know from Eph. 5: 22-33 that the “bride of Christ…or the wife of the Lamb” is the Church.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God.
The angel said he was going to show John the “bride of Christ”…and now he is showing him the “holy city, Jerusalem”…they two are one and the same.
- And notice where the “holy city, Jerusalem” comes from…it comes “out of heaven from God.
- The Roman Empire had its origin with men…the church has its origin in heaven.
He says that the “holy city, Jerusalem” had the “glory of God.’
- Just as Jesus came down from heaven and reflected the glory of His Father (Jn 1:14), so now does the “wife of the Lamb.”
- That is to be our purpose…and a characteristic that we possess as the Lord’s church…that we reflect His glory.
Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
- Notice the gates…there are 12 of them…12 which is the number of the people of God.
- And notice that the names on the gates are the names of the 12 tribes.
- Everything about this city marks it out as the city of God’s people.
- All of God’s redeemed.
13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
- Here again we are assured that we are seeing an image of the church of God.
In Eph. 2:19-22 we find these words: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The Christians in the book of Ephesians “were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”…or what the apostles and prophets taught.
- Christ Jesus was their cornerstone…He is the one they stood on.
- They were they dwelling of God in the Spirit.
- They were referred to as the “church.”
- And that is what is being referred to here in Rev. 21:14.
- We are seeing a glorious image of the church of God.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
I want you to notice verse 16 as recorded in the KJV:
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
Notice, the city is “foursquare.”
- That means it is cubed just like a big “holy of holies.”
And notice, in the KJV it is 12 furlongs…notice the number 12 again which is the number of God’s people.
- This city is 12 high…12 long…12 wide…everything about the measurement of this thing says that this is the city of God’s people.
Look at verse 17: And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
- 72 yards is 6 x 12…there is the 12 again.
The King James Version says: And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
- 144 equals 12 x 12…again, notice the number 12.
- All these measurements indicate that this is the “city of God’s people…or the church.”
Now, I put a pencil to it…if you take 12 thousand furlongs…a furlong by today’s measure is 1/8 of a mile…that makes 12 thousand furlongs 1500 miles.
- You take 1500 cubed and you have 3, 375, 000, 000 cubic feet.
- The highest mountain in the world is about 6 mile high which means this structure would be 250 times taller than Mt. Everest.
- This is a city that will never be conquered.
- And that in part is what the measurements are suppose to symbolize…this is a holy, glorious, and secure dwelling of the people of God.
- No one will crash its gates…no one will climb its walls.
- And those who dwell inside have nothing to fear.
Rome just thought it was strong and powerful.
- It can never compare to the church…or the people of God.
Now, as we go through the 3 verses you are going to see a staggering picture of preciousness.
The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
- If people fully understood just how precious the church is in the sight of God…I would suspect that more people would want to be added to it.
- And if we, as God’s people, fully understood just how precious the church is in the sight of God…I suspect it would affect our willingness to work in the church…to serve in the church…
- And I suspect it would affect the way we work and serve…I would think that we would be more careful about doing damage to or causing division to the Lord’s church.
Now, look at verse 22: I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
If there had been a temple in this city that would have spoken of separation between God and His people.
- Remember in the O.T., the temple had a “holy place” in it where the people could not go.
- The only one who could go into that “holy place” was the High Priest and he could only go once a year.
- Therefore, the temple reminded the people that there was a separation between them and God.
But in this city there is no temple with a holy place of separation. In this city the people are always in the presence of God and He is always with His people.
- This is a privilege that those who are citizens of the church possess.
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
- Others may stumble in darkness…but not the church.
- And because the church is so well lit…it will always be a shining light that others will hopefully see.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
- Before, the nations thought that Rome was the hope of the world.
- But that is not true.
- In the church lies the hope of the nations.
- If they walk in the light…they walk in her light.
- The church they hated, despised and beat is now the city set on a hill…a beacon by which the nations are led to safety.
And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
In chapter 22:14 and 15 we find a brief commentary on these verses. Notice what it says: Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
Many people claim to be a member of the church.
- But no one who is unclean…no one who practices abomination and lying.
- No one who is a “dog” or a sorcerer…or who is immoral…or a murderer…or idolater or a practicing liar…is a member of the church.
You cannot be a member of the church…or the precious city of God if you are unclean.
- That is why it is essential for you to be washed and made holy.
- 1 John 1:7 tells us that “the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.”
- You can be washed as white and pure as snow by and only by the blood of Christ.
- The blood of bulls and goats can’t do it…it is only the blood of Christ that can cleanse.
And Acts 22:16 tells us when that cleansing takes place when it says: Acts 22:16
And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
Won’t you come to Christ and be cleansed by His blood…and thus become a citizen of His city…the church.
Time To Choose
TIME TO CHOOSE
Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Is there literally going to be a new heaven and new earth?
- Is the heaven we enjoy…and the earth we live on going to be done away with and replaced by another?
- And when it is, will there no longer be any sea?
Many think so because they want to take what John sees here and insist that it must literally be fulfilled.
But notice the first part of the verse again. John says “I saw” a new heaven and new earth.
- Once again this is part of the vision that John has been seeing.
- And notice the word “And”, that means this is a continuation of what he has just seen in chapter 20.
- And in chapter 20 we have seen the total and utter defeat of Satan and his workings through the Roman Empire…and we have seen the total and utter defeat of all those who served the beast.
- Their world has been totally and completely dismantled…and that is why John says here that he “saw a new heaven and new earth”…the world of the oppressor has been done away with.
Notice verse one again: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
- The passing of the heavens and earth is not a new figure at all.
- This type of terminology is used over and over again throughout scripture.
For example in Isaiah 13 the prophet speaks of Babylon (Vs. 1) and the judgment that is coming at the hand of the Medes (vs. 17) and look how he describes this coming judgment:
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will melt. 8 And they will be terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labor, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame. 9 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, And mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place.
- He talks here of a disruption in the stars, the sun, and the moon…and he talks of “punishing the world” for its iniquity…and shaking the earth right out of its place.
- All of this is going to be done by God through the Medes.
Now, we all know history well enough to know that none of this literally occurred.
- It wasn’t intended to occur.
- This is a prophetic description of God’s attack on the Babylonian world.
- This is language of judgment.
Another passage, Isaiah 34:1-17. God is going to bring judgment on the nations, Edom in particular. Notice how he describes the judgment:
Draw near, O nations, to hear; and listen, O peoples!Let the earth and all it contains hear, and the world and all that springs from it. 2 For the Lord’s indignation is against all the nations,And His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter. 3 So their slain will be thrown out,And their corpses will give off their stench,And the mountains will be drenched with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven will wear away,And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine,Or as one withers from the fig tree. 5 For My sword is satiated in heaven,Behold it shall descend for judgment upon Edom,And upon the people whom I have devoted to destruction.
Now, is all of this to be literally fulfilled?
- In the days of Isaiah was the “sky literally rolled up like a scroll?”
This is a prophetic way of describing the end for Edom.
- Edom’s world will be brought to an end.
- This is language of judgment.
Here is another found in Nahum 1:1-5:
1:1 The oracle of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; He dries up all the rivers.Bashan and Carmel wither; The blossoms of Lebanon wither. 5 Mountains quake because of Him, And the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, The world and all the inhabitants in it.
These describe the God who is about to bring judgment on Ninevah…but these things do not literally take place.
- This is prophetic language of judgment…and it is intended to strike fear, call people to repentance, and assure them of their complete destruction.
Then there is Micah 1:3-6 and Micah’s words concerning Jerusalem and Samaria:
3 For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. 4 The mountains will melt under Him, And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. 5 All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? 6 For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley, And will lay bare her foundations.
- This is prophetic language of judgment…the world of Samaria is going to be dismantled.
- But none of this literally happens…”the valleys were not literally split like wax before the fire.”
This kind of language simply says, “The world of the wicked as they knew it is coming to an end.”
Now, go back to Rev. 21:1 and what was it that John saw?
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
- He saw the destruction of the world of the ungodly.
- Rome’s world came to an end just like Babylon’s and Edom’s, and Judah’s.
- This is language of judgment.
But now, if the language of judgment on the ungodly is the destruction of their heaven and earth, what would the opposite be?
- Well, it would be language of blessing…speaking of a “new heaven and new earth.”
- And that is what you have here in chapter 21.
The world of those who were servants of the beast has been totally dismantled…Rome is destroyed.
- And now, a “new heaven and a new earth” comes to be.
- It is a new environment, a new state of affairs.
- In the new heaven and earth the old oppressors do not exist.
- They have been dealt with.
- It is a new beginning for the people of the Lord.
So, let’s go through this now and see what John saw. Vs 1 again:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
- The last phrase here: “There is no longer any sea”; if you remember back in chapter 13 the beast was seen as coming up out of the sea.
- Well, that won’t happen again.
- The Roman world is gone!
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
- This is not a literal city because down in verse 9 we are told that this bride is “the wife of the Lamb.”
- And we know from Eph. 5: 22 and following, and 2 Cor. 11:2 that the “bride of Christ” is the church…the saints…the blood purchased of God.
Now, notice, he says that the “new Jerusalem came down out of heaven from God.”
- What is being stressed here?
Well, back in chapter 13 the beasts in the chapter came up out of the sea and earth.
- Theirs was of human origin.
- “New Jerusalem” or the church has it’s origin in heaven.
And notice the phrase: “As a bride adorned for her husband.”
- She has just come through a period of great trial and suffering at the hands of the beast.
- How does she look? Blood stained? Smoke covered? Sullied?
- Not at all.
- She has come through her great trial pure and clean.
- She has been true to her beloved and her dress speaks of her innocence, loyalty, and joy.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them,
- Several places in scripture the church is spoken of as the dwelling place of God. (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:20ff; 1 Peter 2: 5)
- What you have here is God coming down among His people.
- And what you are being told here is that God is not ashamed of His people.
- He is willing to be called their God, and not only willing, but pleased.
- His people have valiantly remained loyal throughout their fiery ordeal with Rome.
4 …and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. “
- This has reference to the past troubles they had endured.
This reassurance has been made before in the scriptures.
- In Isaiah 14:3, speaking of the pressures from Babylon, Isaiah says, in reference to Israel, that God: will give you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved,
Isa 65:19, God says: “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
Isa 30:19 God assures His people that he will take care of them and look what he says:
O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
In Isaiah 35:10 He tells the Jews that if they would accept the Messiah that: They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Then in Isaiah 25:8 we have a prophecy of God’s going to punish Israel’s enemies and in the process of speaking about it Isaiah says: He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
In each of these situations God is talking about removing Israel’s enemies and taking away the reproach suffered at the hands of those enemies.
- And that is what is being said in Revelation 21: 4.
- The enemies of God’s people manifested in the Roman Empire have been taken away…and so too has the hardship suffered at the hands of Rome.
Rev 21:4 and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death;
- Death has been personified in this book as an enemy of God’s people.
- It was used by Rome against His people.
- But now that Rome has been defeated…so too has Rome’s use of death.
- Rome will martyr no more.
…there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
- Good news for those who have remained faithful through out the ordeal under Rome.
- The oppressor’s gone…and the future is secure no matter what.
Rev 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
This was not just talk.
- He who sits on the throne is “faithful and true.”
- And all of this is being said to lead them to make the decision which He calls them to make.
- He has declared what is about to transpire.
- Now they must make up their minds
- They must choose if they are going to be faithful to Him…or follow the beast.
- But before they choose they should consider the following.
6 And He said to me, “It is done. (The things He has been speaking of…the destruction of Rome…and a new state of things afterwards…are as good as done.) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (He is the beginning of the judgment on Rome and He is the end of the judgment on Rome.)
Now, notice the call to decision in the next couple of verses. They must decide…and so do each of us: I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 “He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
A commitment must be made.
- Those who are too afraid (of Rome and the serpent) to make that commitment will suffer utter defeat with the rest of the ungodly.
What will it be for you?
Revelation 20: 1-6.
In chapter 17-18 we saw the obituary of the beast or the Roman Empire.
- The Roman Empire had crucified the Son of God.
- They were also persecuting the saints in an effort to eradicate the cause of Christ.
- All were willful acts against God.
- So, the Roman Empire is destroyed.
- And, in chapter 19 we saw the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” where the faithful celebrate their victory over the beast…and we saw the “Feast of the Birds” who are summoned to eat those who died in service to the beast.
But what about Satan?
- Satan has been working through Rome to oppose God, His Son, and the saints.
- What affect would the fall of the beast have on Satan?
- John answers that in the first 3 verses of the chapter.
And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
Notice what the angel does to Satan.
- 2: He lays hold of him.
- He binds him (apparently with the chain of verse 1).
- He throws him into the abyss.
- He shuts the abyss over him and seals it for a 1000 years.
This is a picture or it is a figurative image to teach us a truth. What is the truth behind all this?
- What you have here is a picture of the devil being totally, perfectly, flawlessly defeated and bound in reference to his working through Rome against the church.
- The “1000 year binding” in verse 2 is symbolic of a complete, perfect job of binding…it is a thorough restraining…one that lasts forever.
- As far as the devil is concerned he is completely defeated in Rome…he is stopped dead.
The defeat of Satan relative to Rome was a work of God so that the nations might see through the Old Fraud.
- Those who wished to see could see that the God the Christians had whipped Satan and was therefore, truly the King of Kings.
- The fall of Rome was a big advertisement.
But notice in verse 3 that Satan is bound for 1000 years in the abyss and not immediately thrown into the lake of fire; vs. 10.
The reason he isn’t immediately thrown into the lake of fire is because he has another service to render: “after these things he must be released for a short time.”
- In regard to the Roman Empire the devil is totally and completely defeated.
- But the devil will manifest himself again sometime and somewhere to have another go at the church.
When he says for a “short time” this is not talking about a literal time period.
- What God wants known is Satan will find another place to work…another army to work through.
- But, when he does God wants to make it clear that just as Satan was defeated in Rome, he will be defeated again after a “short time.”
What about the saints?
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
- These are the saints who have lived faithfully through the crisis and have been given the kingdom that Jesus promised to those who overcame.
Notice why they died: “…because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” and because they did “not worship the beast or his image” and they did “not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.”
Notice what they do in verse 4: “…they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
- John saw them come “to life.”
- There is no defeat in the death of a saint. (“Blessed are those who die in the Lord.”
- They are living; they have a perfect victory never to lose.
In verses 4 the state of those who belong to Christ and who have died for Christ is set forth in a resurrection and reigning picture.
- John is telling the saints that he is writing to that even though they may die at the hands of the beast they will ultimately live and reign forever with Christ.
- This is in sharp contrast to those who served the beast.
THE REST OF THE DEAD; VS. 5
(5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.) This is the first resurrection.
- The first part of this verse is a parenthetical statement.
- It contrasts the saints mentioned in verse 4.
The “rest of the dead” refers to those who died in the service of the beast; chapt. 19.
- They do not come to life “until the thousand years were completed.”
- They do not come to life because they do not have any part in the victory of the saints.
- They were living losers…they are dead losers…and they will live again only to be losers again in the second resurrection; see verse 12-13.
- This speaks of total and complete defeat.
- This is quite a contrast to the saints of verse 4.
The statement, “This is the first resurrection” refers to the saints of verse 4
6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
- The “First Resurrection” is vindication of the martyrs.
- They are raised while the rest remain dead.
Notice, “the second death has no power” over them and it holds no fear for them…they will reign with Christ forever.
The term “First resurrection” implies that there is a second.
- The second resurrection is spoken of in verse 12 and 13.
Now verse 7: And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison
- The “thousand years” here has reference to the complete binding and defeat of Satan in Rome.
- Notice, he will be “released”.
- Satan is not in control…he is under control.
- He will have another go at another time and at another place.
8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
- “…and will come out to deceive the nations…”; the reason Satan was “bound for 1000 years” is so the nations could see through him.
- His defeat in Rome exposed him so the world could see he was useless and a liar.
- However, few learn this and are deceived by him all over again.
“Gog and Magog” refers to no one in particular.
- Satan will find another to work through to attack the church and the Lord.
- Makes no difference who they are or how big they are they will be defeated again.
- See Ezekiel 39: 12-13.
And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
- Gog and Magog are defeated.
- Since this army and invasion stands for any and all of the devil’s assaults against the church after the Roman offensive, its failure signals the end of Satan as an opponent.
- So, verse 10.
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
- “Lake of fire” is symbolic of total defeat.
- Satan will be defeated in all of his attempts.
Now, in verses 4-10 we saw how the saints came out after the battle with the beast. How about the other side?
- Verses 11-15 tell us.
- Keep in mind, this is a vision so this is not a literal judgment scene.
- We must stay consistent.
- This is a vision or a picture that tells a truth.
- What is the truth behind the picture?
And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
- The “second resurrection.” When John spoke of “the first” he was contrasting it with this one.
- Those involved in the “first” resurrection were blessed and holy.
- Not these. They died in battle and now they are “raised” to die again.
- What they received they fully deserved.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
- Everything which God has shown Himself Lord over gives up the dead.
- No righteous in this judgment. We are dealing here with all those who died in service to the beast.
- All of them are subject to the verdict we are about to hear in verse 14.
14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
- Death and Hades are viewed as enemies of God even though He makes use of them. Christ had long ago defeated both of these.
- They are defeated and no longer to be used by Rome against the saints.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Those going into the lake of fire do so because they don’t belong to Christ.
The 1000 Year Reign of Christ
THE 1000 YEAR REIGN OF CHRIST
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and 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 completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Premillenialist use these verses for the basis of the doctrine of the “1000 year reign of Christ.”
- Their teaching is that Christ will someday return to this earth and establish His kingdom and will reign here for 1000 years with the saints.
- Prior to His return will be the “Rapture” as well as a period of “Great Tribulation.”
- Obviously none of these things have yet taken place because we have not been “raptured” where all the faithful to Christ are taken into heaven.
- Therefore, those who teach this doctrine say that the events of chapter 20 must still take place in the future.
- What about the idea of the “1000 year reign of Christ” here on earth?
- Will there be a literal 1000 year period of time when Christ will rule over His kingdom here on the earth?
- Is that what this passage is talking about?
- Are the Premillenialists right?
First of all, glance through the first 6 verses of the passage:
- Notice in verse 1 that this is a vision…it is what John “saw.
- All through the book truths have been presented to us in “figurative” images…and now, to take the “1000 year reign of Christ here on earth” and make it something that is to be literally fulfilled is not being consistent.
- This is a “vision” and therefore, you cannot insist that what John says here will be literally fulfilled.
Second: Notice that John saw an “angel coming down”; vs. 1.
- As far as I can tell there is no mention at all in this chapter of Jesus coming down to this earth to establish His kingdom.
- John apparently sees an “angel” coming down and it may be that the angel does come to the earth…even that is not specifically mentioned.
- But no where in the chapter do we read of Jesus coming to the earth as Premillenialists suggest.
THREE ADDITIONAL POINTS THAT MUST BE STRESSED IN UNDERSTANDING “THE 1000 YEAR REIGN OF CHRIST.”
First: Nothing is said in the verse about the length of Jesus’ reign.
Vs. 4: And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
- If I were to say that “I worked with Mr. Jones for 10 years” have I said anything about how long Mr. Jones worked?
- The time that Mr. Jones worked cannot be determined by my statement and the passage above states how long the saints reigned with Christ and it says nothing about how long Christ reigns.
- Therefore, to use this passage to teach that Christ will reign for 1000 years is to say something that the passage does not say.
Second: If one passage is interpreted in such a way that it contradicts all other passages on the subject, something is wrong with the interpretation.
- Nothing else is scripture backs a literal 1000 year earthly reign of Christ.
Third: A literal one thousand year reign places a limit on the length of time that Christ will reign. Two other passages in Revelation completely refute the literal 1000 year reign.
- Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
- Rev 22:5 And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.
The point is this: The number 1000 does not conflict with “forever and ever.” It is merely a symbolic way of saying the same thing. The saints spoken of in Revelation 20 and verse 4 who “had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand”, those saints began their reign with Christ before their death, Rev. 1:6; 5: 9-10, and they continued to reign with Him even after they were killed by the beast…or by Rome. That reign will not end after a thousand years have passed. It will last forever.
Summary: To use this passage to say that there will be a literal 1000 year earthly reign of Christ on this earth is to take unjustified liberties with the passage. The Lord’s kingdom has already been established; Col. 1: 12-13, Rev. 1: 5; Rev. 5: 9-10; as His saints we are part of His kingdom, and as such we will reign with Him forever and ever as long as we remain faithful even unto death; Rev. 2: 10.
Satan Is Bound And Defeated
Satan Is Bound and Defeated
Rev. 20: 1-15
Last week we studied the first 6 verses of this chapter…and here is what we found.
- In verse 1 John reminds us that this, like so much of the book, is a vision…something he “saw.”
- This is a vision that has a truth behind it.
- And that truth is a message of encouragement to all of us.
- And it was especially encouraging to the saints living at the time that this prophecy was written because it reassured them that their faith in Christ was not misplaced, that they would be victorious even if they suffered unto death, and what they needed to do was remain faithful no matter what was happening or what happened to them.
Many want to take the events of this chapter and say that they must literally be fulfilled.
- That would mean that an angel would literally have to come down from heaven (and we do not know where he would come down to), and he would have to bring the key to the abyss with him as well as a great chain, and he would have to literally take hold of the dragon, and bind him for a 1000 years, and throw him into the abyss.
- Here is what happens…most acknowledge that this is not going to literally take place…that it is a figure…a vision.
- But then they turn around and take other figures in this chapter and say it must be literally fulfilled.
- That is being inconsistent.
This is a vision…with an encouraging truth behind it…and it was never intended to be anything more than that.
- God, through this vision, is encouraging the saints at the time, as well as us, to remain faithful.
So this is something John “saw” and what John “saw” was “an angel”…not Christ.
- Christ is described a couple of times in this book, in chapter 6 and chapter 19, and not one time is He referred to as an “angel.”
- An angel does the coming down and the binding here.
And notice again, that the angel comes “down from heaven.”
- There is nothing here that says that he comes to the earth.
- Over in verse 8 Satan puts together an army on the “broad plain of the earth” and attacks the saints…and a “fire from heaven comes down and devours them.”
- But there is nothing here to indicate that Christ came to this earth as the Premillenialist teach when they say that Jesus must come and reign here on the earth for 1000 years.
So, John sees this vision of an “angel coming down with a key to the abyss and a great chain…and the angel lays hold of the serpent…or the devil…and he binds him for a 1000 years…and throws him into the abyss, and shuts it, and seals it, so that the serpent can no longer deceive the nations, until the 1000 years is completed; after which the serpent must be released for a short time.”
As I said last week, I do not believe that the 1000 years is speaking of a period of time.
- In scripture 1000 speaks of completeness…totality…perfection. (Psa. 50: 10; Deut. 7:9; Psa. 105:8)
- Combine that with “throws him into the abyss, shuts it, and seals it” and what you have here is a complete and total binding of Satan…a total defeat of Satan.
- And that is exactly what has happened to Satan through the Roman Empire.
- He has been totally and completely defeated in reference to the Roman Empire and his use of the Roman Empire to attack the Lord and his saints.
- He has been working through and in the Roman Empire but now he has been stopped dead and totally defeated.
The message to the saints…the devil is a loser.
But now, even though the devil is defeated in his use of the Roman Empire…and even though he is down and out…he will make a comeback for in verse 3 we are told that “when the thousand years end”…when the complete binding of Satan in reference to his use of the Roman Empire is completed…”he will be released for a short time. “
- Again, “for a short time” is not talking about a literal period of time.
- What God wants known is that Satan will find another place to work…and what God wants to make clear is, when he does, he will be defeated again just like he was in Rome.
- In fact, we will see that starting in verse 7.
- Satan is a loser in Rome…and he will always be a loser.
Now, after John sees the complete binding of Satan by the angel…in verse 4 he sees the “souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Christ and because of the word of God and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their head…”
- John sees these martyred saints “come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years.”
- This is the scene of a battlefield with the dead scattered all over it.
- Some of the dead were faithful to Christ…others were faithful to the beast.
- Now, as you look out over this battlefield you start seeing those that were faithful to Christ come back to life again.
- And when they do they take their place on thrones along with the other saints.
But verse 5 says that the “rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.”
- Then John says, “this is the first resurrection.”
Only the martyred saints…those who were faithful to Christ even unto death…are raised up in this first resurrection to life and reigning with Christ.
- And the thousand years of reigning here speaks once again of totality, and completeness.
- The saints are totally victorious and will reign with Christ forever. (Rev. 11: 15; 22: 5)
- The dead who followed the beast are seen as enduring a 1000 years of death…or total complete defeat and destruction.
Now, verse 6: Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
- The faithful saints as well as those who were faithful to the beast are both seen as having already died once in verses 4 and 5.
- But only the martyred saints participate in the first resurrection.
- They are raised to be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years…or totally, completely…or forever.
- The second death mentioned here will have no power over them.
However, those who served the beast….those who consist of the “rest of the dead” who were not a part of the first resurrection…the second death will have power over them.
- Those who served the beast are dead in verse 5 and will be raised up only to die again.
- They are utterly defeated.
Now verse 7: And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,
- After the complete binding of Satan in reference to his working through and in Rome…”he will be released from his prison.”
- Just because he was defeated in the Roman Empire does not mean that he is finished in his efforts to deceive people and nations.
Satan will be released from his prison…
- This is something that he is permitted to do.
Rev 20:8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
- When Satan was defeated in the Roman Empire he was seen for what he really is…a loser.
- The Roman Empire was a world-wide stage upon which all the world could see that the God of the Christians whipped the serpent.
And you would think that all the nations would then be devoted to God.
- But not so.
- Satan is released to deceive other nations and peoples…and they are quick to believe his lies…just like Pharaoh did in Egypt…and Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon.
And notice the term “God and Magog”? Who is this?
- Well, the only other place in the Bible where Gog and Magog are spoken of is in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
- And in those two chapters Ezekiel has presented the glory the Jews would experience under the Messiah.
- And to make it clear to them that under the Messiah their glory was secure he presented the defeat of any possible enemy under the terms of a “Gog of the land of Magog” battle.
- So the truth of the matter is there are no actual places of Gog or Magog.
- These names are symbolic in nature and speak of no one in particular, but anyone who is deceived by Satan, to go to war against God.
And notice again now in verse 8 that Satan comes out to deceive the nations, Gog and Magog…that is anyone who is deceived by Satan to go to war against God…
- And he will “…gather them together for the war; and the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.”
- The purpose of this statement is to stress “bigness.”
- And the reason he stresses this is because he is going to point out that no matter how large the enemy army may be…they will not over come the people of God.
- If ever God’s people would be beaten, surely such an army as Gog’s would do it.
- But instead Gog loses…he is utterly defeated.
Let me show you what I mean…look at verse 9: And they(Gog and Magog) came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
What is the point?
- Satan and his forces will never win no matter how many they are…how powerful they might seem to be.
- They are defeated at every turn.
- And the second point here…God’s people will be vindicated.
This whole thing is to tell all that Satan was totally defeated in reference to his use of Rome to attack God’s people…and he will always be defeated.
In fact, he is utterly and totally defeated…look at verse 10: And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Now, a lot of people want to take this verse and use it to show that Satan will some day be thrown into the lake of fire and destroyed forever.
- That is not what this passage is about…that doesn’t fit the context of the chapter.
The context of the chapter shows that Satan has been totally and utterly defeated when it comes to his working through Rome.
- He is a loser and will always be defeated no matter who or what peoples or nations he might work through.
- And this verse simply reinforces the utter and total defeat of Satan.
- He is altogether and forever defeated.
- No one comes out of the lake of fire to do anything.
- He is and always will be a loser.
Now, verses 11-15.
- Now, verses 4-10 have been dealing with the victory of the saints.
- Their present triumph and the assurance of their future stability.
But how did the other side come out? Well, that is what you have here in verses 11-15.
- Now, we must be consistent.
- In verse 4 the judgment scene there was not literal…so neither is this one.
- This is not talking about the “end of time” general judgment that is to take place.
- That was not what verse 4 was about…and neither is this one.
- This is a vision…it is a figure with a truth behind it.
- We must stay consistent.
So look what he says. Vs. 11: And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
This is not talking about the end of time and the destruction of the heavens and earth.
- This language has been used several times in scripture (Isaiah 13: 6-22; Dan. 2: 37-38; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6; Isaiah 34: 1-17) to speak of God’s dismantling of the world of the ungodly.
- And that is what this is here.
- Rome’s world has come to an end just as Babylon’s and Edom’s, and Judah’s did.
- This is language of judgment.
- The ungodly nation of Rome has been dismantled and there is no place for them to hide or run too.
- Judgment is on them!
Vs. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
- This is the second resurrection.
- John spoke of the first resurrection back up in verses 5 and 6.
- Now, here is the second and it stands in quite a contrast with the first.
- Those who took part in the first resurrection were blessed and holy.
- They raised to live and reign…to share in the victory with Christ.
These here in verse 12 are the unholy.
- They died too, and are now they are raised (in figure), only to die a second time.
- What they receive they deserve for they are judged according to their deeds.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
- Everything that God has shown Himself Lord over in the book gives up the dead.
- He has smitten everything…the land…the seas…He is even Lord over death and Hades.
- And because He is, those things deliver to Him when He demands.
Now notice, there are none righteous in this resurrection.
- The righteous were partakers of the first resurrection.
- We are dealing here with those who died in the service of the beast.
- ALL OF THEM….they are subject to the verdict that we are about to hear.
14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
- Death and Hades are enemies of God and both were long ago defeated by Christ.
- And what happens here speaks of their defeat as well.
- And when you combine this with verse 10 what you have is all the enemies of God are utterly defeated.
And notice, the lake of fire is only the “second death.”
- This is not talking about the end of time.
- This is talking about those who died on the side of Rome.
- They have died and been raised up only to die again.
- Satan, the beast, and those faithful to the beast are totally, and utterly defeated.
15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This verse declares that there is an alternative to the “lake of fire” or total defeat.
- In this chapter, those who are thrown into the lake of fire are thrown because they don’t belong to Jesus.
- In this verse, the book of life is not opened in order to secure deliverance for those whose names are inscribed in it.
- It is opened only to justify the sentence passed on any who are cast into the lake of fire.
So, what is the message of this chapter.
- SATAN IS A LOSER…HE WAS IN AND THROUGH ROME…AND HE ALWAYS WILL BE NO MATTER WHO HE WORKS THROUGH.
- GOD AND CHRIST ARE VICTORIOUS AND THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL AND REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THEM WILL BE AS WELL.
- “HURT MY PEOPLE AND PAY THE CONSEQUENCES”
The Binding of Satan
The Binding of Satan
Revelation 20: 1-6
Chapter 20 here is the chapter that is at the heart of Pre-millennialism and the doctrine of the 1000 year reign of Christ here on the earth.
- Basically, what that doctrine teaches is that Christ left this earth because He was unable to establish His kingdom here.
- He has ascended into heaven and some day He will return and establish His kingdom here and He will reign here for 1000 years with the saints.
- Connected to all of this is the rapture and the great tribulation theories.
- And obviously, none of these things have yet taken place because we have not had a rapture where all the faithful to Christ are just raptured up into heaven.
- So, those who teach these things say that the events of chapter 20 must still take place in the future.
- Is that what this chapter is talking about?
- Well, let’s look at this and see.
Here in chapter 20 it is critical that we keep in mind that we are looking at a picture or a vision.
- In fact, in verse 1 John reminds us of that when he says: “I saw an angel coming down from heaven…”
- Everything we have seen up to this point has been a picture or a vision.
- We have been looking at a picture of a big red dragon, recognizing it as a figure and saying, “What is the truth conveyed under this figure?”
- We’ve seen an “earth beast” and said, “That is a figure. What is the truth conveyed by that figure?”
- We’ve seen a “sea beast” and said, “That is a figure. What is the truth conveyed under it?”
- All along we have been seeing these figures from a vision and learning a truth about them.
- But unfortunately when we get to this chapter many people want to take some of the things mention in it and say, “That is no picture. That is a literal truth that is told and it literally must take place.”
- That won’t do…that is not being consistent…and we must be consistent.
- Things must be figurative or literal. You can’t jump back and forth.
Now, let me list some of the main images and phrases that occur in this chapter.
- 1000 year binding.
- 1000 year reigning.
- A first resurrection.
- 1000 year death.
- A little season of Satanic freedom.
- A Gog-Magog host.
- An invasion of a holy city.
- A second resurrection.
- A second death.
- A judgment scene.
- A lake of fire.
Now, since all of these are figures that represent truths…are they all figurative (symbolic)…or are they all literal truths that must come to pass?
Simply told, these figures say this: An angel comes down out of heaven and binds the Serpent and locks him away for 1000 years, so that he can’t deceive the nations for that period.
- At the point when the Serpent is being bound, those who were martyred for Jesus are resurrected. This resurrection is said to be the “first” resurrection. From the moment they are resurrected they reign with Jesus for 1000 years while the dead who died in the service of the beast remain dead for 1000 years during which the resurrected saints ruled.
- When the 1000 years are finished, the 1000 years during which the saints ruled and Satan was bound, Satan is turned loose for a little while. He calls together a great host called “God and Magag” and they attack a holy city together. Fire comes out of heaven and devours them and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire.
- A judgment scene follows at which time the “rest of the dead” are resurrected and judged. Those whose names are not found written in one of the books are thrown into the lake of fire, which is equivalent to dying a second time.
- So, what is this all about…is this literally going to happen as some say it will.
- Or, has it already happened?
Well, lets go through this and see. Look starting in verse 1:
And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
- Now remember, this is something that John saw…a vision.
- And John saw an “angel coming down.”
- As far as I can tell there is no mention at all in this chapter of Jesus coming down to the earth.
- In his vision John apparently sees an angel coming down…and it may be that the angel comes to the earth…even that is not specifically mentioned.
- But no where in the chapter do we read of Jesus coming to the earth.
So this angel comes down and look what he does in verse 2: And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him(apparently with the chain from verse 1) for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
Now, most people want to make the 1000 years here a literal time period.
- When they do they run into all kinds of problems with this passage.
I do not believe that the 1000 years mentioned here is a literal time period…in fact, I do not believe that it is talking about a time period at all.
- I believe it is talking about totality…or completeness…or perfection”…and in this case…a perfect binding.
- When it comes to Satan’s working through Rome…the Devil is totally, perfectly, and completely defeated and bound.
- He will not use the Roman Empire again to attack God’s purpose.
Look at this…the use of the number “1000” is fairly common in scripture.
- Several times in this book we have read of “thousands and 10 times ten thousand.” (Rev. 5:11; 9:16 – KJV)
- The use of these terms is to convey the idea of bigness…exhaustiveness.
- That is how many angels do service to God.
- Twice 10 thousand times 10 thousand is the “number” of the fearful army of chapter 9
- “Thousand” speaks of completeness…bigness…totality.”
In Psalm 50: 10 we are told that God owns the cattle on a “thousand” hills.
- His ownership is total and complete.
In Deuteronomy 7:9 we are told that God keeps “His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
- How long does God’s faithfulness last?
- What about generation 1001?
- No need to worry, God’s faithfulness knows no bounds.
In 1 Chron. 16:15 and Psalm 105:8 both speak of God’s word, which He “commanded to a thousand generations.”
- Does that mean that His word is not commanded to 1001 generations?
- The thousand represents totality…completeness.
So look at verse 2 again. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
- What this means is, the Devil is completely defeated in his use of Rome.
- He has been working in and through the Roman Empire.
- But now he has been stopped dead…this is a total defeat.
Now look at verse 2-3: 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (total defeat), 3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer,
- Sounds like a total defeat doesn’t it?
- Well, as far as Satan’s working through the Roman Empire it is…
- He is totally, perfectly, completely defeated with reference to his working through Rome against the Church.
3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer,
- The defeat of Satan in reference to Rome was a work of God…and it was done so that the nations could see through the old Fraud.
- Satan is a liar…a deceiver…and he is not as powerful as he led people to believe.
- Those who wished to see could see that the God of the Christians has whipped Satan and that God was truly King.
- If they didn’t see it, it wasn’t God’s fault.
3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed;
- Now, does this mean that Satan will not have his influence any more?
- Well, not through the Roman Empire he won’t.
- The Roman Empire is destroyed and Satan will no longer use it as a tool to attack God and His church.
But Satan will put together another army and he will attack again. Look at the end of verse 3: …after these things he must be released for a short time.
Now again, when he says for a “short time” this is not talking about a literal time period.
- What God wants known is Satan will find another place to work…another army to work through.
- But when he does God wants to make it clear that just as Satan was defeated in Rome…he will be defeated again.
- He will be released for a short time before he is defeated again.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
These are the saints.
- These are the ones who have lived faithfully through the crisis and have been given the kingdom that Jesus promised those who overcame.
And what are these people?
- Well, the end of verse 4 says that, “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
- They are the living! They have a perfect victory…never to lose.
And notice: “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,”
- Notice why they died….for the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.
And how did John see them? Weeping? Moaning in despair and full of remorse?
- That is not what John saw at all.
- He saw them “alive.”
- There is no defeat in the death of a saint.
Now, notice very carefully
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Now picture in your mind a battlefield with slain scatter all over it.
- Some of the dead have the name of Jesus written on them…and others have the mark of the beast.
- Now, as you look out over this battlefield…and you start seeing the righteous dead coming to life again…and they take their place on thrones along with the other saints…..what is the message to you?
- It speaks of total victory.
And in verse 5 John says that this is the first resurrection.
- These people were dead…but now they are alive to reign with Christ.
In fact, look what he says: This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Now, look at verse 5. What about the others on the battlefield?
(5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.)
- Who are these dead? They are those who died in service to the beast.
- They are not inclusive with the faithful to Christ.
- These are the ones who served the beast.
And notice what it says: “They did not come to life until the 1000 years were completed.”
- Does this imply that they live again? Yes.
Why don’t they live again until the 1000 years is finished?
- Well, because of what that 1000 years stands for.
- It speaks of triumph in Christ.
- It is the experience only of saints.
- These “dead” have neither part nor lot in the victory.
- They were living losers.
- They are dead losers.
- And they will live only to be losers again.”
Now, John says that “this is the first resurrection.”
- What is the first resurrection?
- Well, it is the resurrection of those who died because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God.
Why is it the first?
- Because John is about to see a second.
- He has seen the first death.
- He will see a second death.
- Saints and sinners alike die under the first death, some in service to Christ…some in service to the beast.
- But the saints are in the first resurrection…so the second death holds no fear for them.
- The first resurrection is to life and reigning…but the second resurrection will be to a second death.
Let me sum up.
- The thousand year binding and the thousand year reigning speak of the same thing from two different angles.
- The first, from Satan’s angle, speaks of utter and total defeat in using Rome against the Lord and His people.
- The second from the standpoint of the saints, speaks of total victory and triumph in the battle against Rome.
The living saints are viewed as enthroned, having been given the kingdom.
- They are viewed as having been raised from among the dead and the rest of the dead don’t live again until the 1000 years are finished.
- They have to endure a 1000 year death while the martyrs enjoy a 1000 year life, and rule with Jesus.
The first death, which is implied by the phrase “the second death” is experienced by both saints and beast servants.
- The first resurrection is experienced only by those who died for Jesus.
- The reason the wicked don’t experience this is because it is a resurrection to life and rule, to triumph and vindication.
- It is the experience only of the martyred saints.
The “released for a short time” doesn’t speak of a time in history.
- It is needed to set forth the truth that although the devil has been utterly broken in the destruction of Rome, the Church will hear from him again.
- However, Satan will, just like he was in Rome…but utterly defeated again and again.
- This assures the saints of their future triumph no matter what comes to pass.
When you get to chapter 19 here, the great harlot Babylon…or Rome has just fallen.
- God had warned of the harlot’s fall in the seals that were broken back in chapter 6 and 8.
- Again He warned of her fall by the sounding of the 7 trumpets back in chapters 8-11.
- And finally the warnings were over…the wrath of God was poured out in the bowls found in chapter 16.
In chapter 17 and 18 we have the obituary where the harlot is identified as Rome and we have the announcement of her death.
And now, here in chapter 19, after the news of her death…it is a time of celebration.
- The death of the harlot is something to sing about and so this chapter speaks of four hallelujahs and an invitation to a wedding feast.
- The Lamb’s wife has not only survived the harlots demise…but she has surpassed it.
- So it is fitting that the bride of Christ should rejoice and that joy is set forth under the figure of a wedding feast.
Also, in this chapter you will see two armies….the army of the Lamb and His holy ones…against the terrible trio and their allies.
- The result again will be victory for the Lord and His followers.
- And that is the message through out this book….the Lord and those who are faithful to Him will always be victorious.
Now, once again, it is difficult to determine what each figure of speech is referring too.
- This is a vision and so it is not likely that we can ever know exactly what each figure is talking about.
- But even so, there are some obvious lessons that we can learn and that is what we need to look for.
- So, lets begin in verse 1.
19:1 After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;
- We don’t know exactly who this “great multitude in heaven” is.
- Perhaps it is the great multitude we read about in chapter 7.
- Whatever the case, they are pleased with the fall of the harlot.
- It is a cause of celebration.
19:1 After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Hallelujah!(Praise to Jehovah) Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;2 because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her. ”
- The greatness of God rests not only on his power but also on the righteousness of his character.
- One of the proofs that He judges righteously is what He has done to the great harlot.
- She is a graphic example of how God judges righteously
- God has avenged His servants…
- She has gotten exactly what she deserved.
- It was a righteous judgment.
3 And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.”
- This is repeated for emphasis.
- And notice the “smoke rises forever and ever.”
- Nero started this fire when he persecuted the saints.
- God used the fire that Nero started for Rome’s destruction.
- And this fire is one that no man can put it out.
- Rome is the illustration of everlasting defeat at the hands of God.
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
- The whole of heaven agrees with the song: “Praise to Jehovah.”
5 And a voice came from the throne, saying,”Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
- See the word, “Almighty”?
- That is the Greek word “pantokrator” and it speaks of “awe inspiring power.”
- This is the original and authentic “shock and awe.”
- Rome was the iron army.
- But one King stopped them in their tracks.
And notice that God “reigns.”
- God has always done that…these people just needed to be reminded of it.
Now, as we go through the next few verses remember the context.
- The context is rejoicing over the fall of the harlot.
- People try to apply the next couple of verses to all kinds of things.
- But here, God uses the setting of a wedding to express joy over the fall of the beast.
7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
- In scripture the wedding feast or a marriage is a common figure.
- Sometimes one part or the whole process is called on to teach one thing or another.
- In Matthew 25: 1ff the disciples are taught watchfulness as they wait for the groom to return.
- That is the sole purpose in that passage of using the wedding illustration.
In John 3:28-30 the wedding scene is used again, but for a different reason.
- In that passage John the baptizer uses the wedding scene to show that Jesus merits all the praise and glory.
- That the best man is not the central figure at the wedding but the groom is.
In Matthew 22:1-14 the marriage feast is called on again to illustrate several things such as the ungodliness of the Jews in respect to Jesus.
In Luke 12:35-40 the wedding feast is brought up again…this time to teach watchfulness again.
- So the wedding feast is brought up in several places in the N.T. and is used to teach or illustrate a specific point.
Well, that is what this verse is here.
- The marriage of the Lamb and His bride is called up to say that the victory of the Lamb and His Church over the harlot is an occasion of rejoicing for both.
- The Lamb is the worthy groom…and the bride has shown her worthiness to be His bride by the fact that she has remained faithful through out the persecution she has suffered at the hands of the harlot.
And because she has, look at verse 8:
8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
- This is a picture of a loyal bride…the church has been faithful throughout and therefore she is pure…subject to join in on the celebration.
9 And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
- This is a rare privilege.
- Only those who love the Lamb at heart…and who love His bride receive this invitation.
- They too can join in the celebration.
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
- Now, the rebuke here suggests that the worship that John was about to deliver here was improper.
- Keep in mind this is a vision so we are not talking about a real-life event here by John.
What we may have here though, is this may be God’s way of telling the brotherhood that no one, not any one, is to be praised for their deliverance except for God.
11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
- No doubt from the descriptive terms found here and in the next few verses that this One who sits on the white horse is Christ.
- This is a picture of a righteous warrior.
12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, (He sees all and misses nothing…penetrating…discerning) and upon His head are many diadems(He wears many because He is King of Kings); and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.
- Whatever this name is, it is unique to Him alone.
13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood(whose blood? His own…bringing to remembrance that He gave His all for His followers and is worthy to be praised, or is it the blood of enemies indicating that He defeats His enemies); and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
- This is a picture of a mighty conqueror…and I believe that is what we need to comprehend.
- Our Lord is Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and He will not be defeated.
- And if we remain faithful to Him…we too will be victorious.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God; 18 in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great. ”
- There is no doubt about the outcome of any who want to stand against the Lord.
- Just like Rome they will be defeated.
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army. 20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the 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 thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
- Notice here that the beast and the false prophet are not killed but thrown into the lake of fire.
- They are utterly defeated…and their torment goes on forever.
21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
If you don’t understand the details of what is going on here…there is one thing that you can understand clearly…and that is: JESUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS WILL BE AND ARE VICTORIOUS.
We are on His side….and that is where we need to stay.
The Obituary Continues
THE OBITUARY CONTINUES
Here in chapter 18 the obituary…or the death notice accompanied by a short biography continues.
- In chapter 16 the 7 bowls of God’s wrath have been poured out on Rome.
- The pouring out of the bowls signifies that there is no more talking about it…there is no more warning…the bowls say, “It is done.”
- Judgment has come…as sure as God said it, “Rome is destroyed.”
And in chapter 17 we had the first part of the obituary where we were told who the deceased was…what she did…and why she died.
- And now, we have the second part of the obituary which will continue to do the same.
- And as it does it will teach us some lessons to remember.
- So, let’s continue with the obituary.
After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.
- Here you have another work from heaven that says God is sovereign.
- And this is a lesson we need to remember.
- In this book the Lord never tires of telling His people who is sovereign.
- This was a reassuring message to these Christians.
- It seemed to them that Rome was sovereign…and that perhaps God had forgotten about them.
- Well, continuously…over and over again they are reassured that Rome and its emperors are subject to the judgment of God.
2 And he(the angel) cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.
- When the angel cries out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the great!” it is like he is making a proclamation for all to hear and remember.
- And that is true…everyone needs to remember that this city that was so powerful…so influential…that seemed so invincible…has fallen through and by the will of God.
And notice the description: she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.
- This is descriptive of a spooky graveyard.
- Here was a proud and glorious world empire bragging about her glory.
- And God says, “I will desolate you so that you will never rise to power again.”
- And so He describes it like this.
3 “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
- She was responsible for other nations falling into ungodly ways. How?
- She made great claims, professed her gods, her ways, and accomplished her goals.
- Everyone wanted to be a part of her.
- She raped the earth and no one stopped her.
- No one spoke out against her.
- She was ruthless and few resisted her.
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people…
- Some were beginning to partake of her ways.
- They were compromising their principles.
- Worldliness was setting in.
- Some were indifferent, just wanting to live and let live.
- Now, they must decide if they want to follow God…or Rome.
4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
6 “Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds(give her a double dose. There is no vindictiveness here. She deserves all she gets); in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her.
- Here is a good reason not to be bad…the payback is tough.
- “Reap what you sow”…some times you reap more.
7 “To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’
- God says here, “the more she struts…the more she suffers
- “The more she swaggers…the more she hurts.”
- “The more arrogance she manifests…the more she will moan.”
And notice she says: “I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.”
- There is a lesson for us here and that is: Keep your words few and sweet for you may have to eat them.
- Look at this verse found in Ecclesiastes 10: 14:
14 Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him?
- Rome bragged arrogantly about how powerful she was.
- The more she talked…the more humbled she would be.
- Her fall would have been easier if she would have not said so much.
Now, watch verse 8. Because of her arrogance her destruction will be total and complete.
- One minute she is glorious…and the next she smells.
- Pride and haughtiness do go before a fall.
8 “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.
9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,
- Now, don’t make a mistake here and think they are lamenting out of love for her.
- They are not mourning out of love.
- He tells us why they are mourning in the next two verses.
9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying,’ Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ 11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more;
- They are lamenting because they have just lost their meal ticket.
- They are mourning out of a sense of loss and fear. (see vs. 11).
Now, notice in the next couple of verses the commercial power she had.
- It is all taken from her.
12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 “And the fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them.
- Rome’s days as a commercial power are gone.
15 “The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying,’ Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;
17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’
- It took so long to get it…and now it is gone so quickly.
And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, 18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,’ What city is like the great city?’
19 “And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’
- These verses stress the thoroughness and totality of destruction that will take place.
20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”
- The saints are vindicated.
- Her downfall is cause for celebration.
- Lesson for us: God says, “Hurt my people and pay the price.”
21 And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.
- This speaks of finality…Rome will never again be a world empire.
22 “And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; 23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.
Her great success would determine her punishment.
24 “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
- Her cruel way led to bloody war.
- 160 million people died in the wars of Rome.
- She didn’t just kill anyone.
- She killed God’s saints and messengers.
- When she touched God’s people she was hurting the apple of His eye.
- She would die for it.
The messages of chapter 18:
- God is sovereign
- We must decide if we are for God…or for Rome.
- Don’t be bad…the payback is rough.
- The higher we exalt ourselves…the greater our fall.
- The more we strut…the more we will suffer.
- Keep your words few and sweet for you may have to eat them.
- “Hurt my people and pay the price.”
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023