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The Triumph of Christianity Over Paganism - Gustave Dore (1866)

After witnessing the fall of the wicked city (the “great prostitute” who spilled the blood of God’s people), John heard a sound like the roar of many people in heaven shouting,

“Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power to our God for true and fair are his judgements. He has condemned the Great Prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged the blood of his servants.”

The Battle of Armegeddon - Artist UnknownAgain they shouted, “The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell to their knees and worshipped God. A voice from the throne in heaven joined in saying,

“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small.”

Then John heard what sounded like a multitude of people, like the roar of rushing waters, like loud peels of thunder, shouting,

“Hallelujah! For God reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad to give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to wear (“fine linen” stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people).”

Then the angel told John,

“Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! These are the true words of God.”

At this, John fell to his feet to worship him but the angel stopped him, saying,

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“Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For it is the spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

The Returned King - Todd L ThomasJohn saw heaven open and before him was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With Justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God.

The armies of heaven followed him riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh, he has this name written: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”.

And John saw an angel standing in the sun who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair,

“Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

Then John saw the Beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the white horse and his army. But the Beast was captured and with it the False Prophet who had performed signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. The two of them were thrown into the fiery lake of fire. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the white horse – and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

What the story means to us today

Praise for God when the Beast is defeated

Multitudes praise God for his just and fair destruction of the wicked city. Then John sees a rider on a white horse accompanied by a heavenly army descend from the skies. The rider on the white horse and his army wage war against the Beast, the False Prophet, and the armies of earth. The Beast and the False Prophet are captured and thrown into a lake of burning sulphur. Then the earthly armies are killed. Thus, the battle reaches a violent, vivid crescendo. Good wins over evil and evil is judged according to its wicked acts.

In response to the defeat of evil, the heavens praise God. In fact, although the defeat of the Beast produces a powerful impact on the reader, praise is the focal point of this chapter. A heavenly multitude celebrates God with four shouts of praise. The multitude praises God for his condemnation of the Great Prostitute and in celebration of the wicked city’s destruction. We hear praise from the twenty-four elders. We hear praise from the four living creatures. Finally, a voice from the throne (probably Jesus) calls on everyone to praise God. As we see in these verses, praise for God is a celebration of his goodness and gratitude for what he’s done for us – and for what he promises to do for us in the future.

Additional thoughts and considerations

The wedding of the Lamb has come

The Second Coming of Christ - Artist UnknownDuring the praise of the great multitude, they shout “the wedding of the Lamb has come, and the bride has made herself ready.” The bride they refer to wears fine, white linen, clean and bright. We find in Revelation 21:2 that the bride mentioned here is the heavenly city of new Jerusalem, a symbol of the Christian church. This union will be further elaborated in the following chapters.

John is overwhelmed and begins to worship the angel

After instructing John to record “blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb”, John falls to the feet of the angel “to worship him”. The angel quickly corrects John’s actions, “Don’t do that!”. The angel explains that he is a “fellow servant”.

In John’s day, some churches worshipped angels as well as God. John’s act would not be considered unusual to some readers. However, this worship of angels can be considered a form of idolatry, a breach of the first commandment. The angel quickly points out that John’s worship is wrongfully directed and that he should worship God instead.

The second coming of Christ

The verses beginning in Revelation 19:11 describe what is known as the “second coming of Christ”. As seen previously in Revelation 6:2, a white horse appears with a rider. But this time the rider is “Faithful and True”, arriving on earth to administer justice, not destruction or conquest as seen with the earlier white horse rider. He arrives wearing a white robe dipped in blood – possibly his own blood or the blood of saints who died championing his cause. This rider appears to be Jesus.

An angel standing in the sun

John sees an angel standing in the sun who cries out to all birds flying in the air, “Come gather together for the great supper of God so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty.” The verses specifically say the angel stands in the sun – not around the sun, not by the sun, nor simply illuminated by the sun’s rays of light. For those who equate God and his angels as some type of foreign intelligence that can be scientifically or physically explained, this verse causes grave problems. Anything that can stand inside the Sun goes far beyond our current understanding of science, physics, and technology.

The Second Coming of Christ - Artist UnknownThe defeat of the beast

It’s risky to force a visual of the battle between Jesus and the Beast. The mechanism involved with the defeat of the beast is left undefined. Earlier we are told of a war in heaven where Michael and his angels fought against the beast. The beast was hurled from heaven. In these verses, the beast is defeated with little fanfare. Armies gather together to wage war against Jesus, but we are not told specifically if a great battle occurred.

The Beast and the False Prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire. Meanwhile, the kings and the armies are killed “with the sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus” which may imply a non-violent death merely by the word of God.

Earlier, in Revelation 2:16, we hear “I will soon fight against them with the sword of my mouth”. Possibly Satan has already been defeated and the events described her simply summarize the judgment of Satan and his followers.

Notes on Biblical translation

“Hallelujah”

The word “hallelujah” (sometimes spelled “alleluiah”) is still used today. The Hebrew translation literally means “Praise Yah” with the “Yah” being the shortened version of Yahweh. The word translates to “praise our god”.

Bible Text

The Second Coming of Christ - Artist UnknownNIV

19 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

“Hallelujah!

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

2 for true and just are his judgments.

He has condemned the great prostitute

who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.

He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

3 And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah!

The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

“Amen, Hallelujah!”

5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God,

all you his servants,

you who fear him,

both great and small!”

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

8 Fine linen, bright and clean,

was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” p He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The Last Judgement - Michelangelo Sistine Chapel, Vatican City (1541)The NET Bible

19:1 After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying,

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

19:2 because his judgments are true and just.

For he has judged the great prostitute

who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality,

and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!”

19:3 Then a second time the crowd shouted, “Hallelujah!” The smoke rises from her forever and ever. 19:4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures threw themselves to the ground and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne, saying: “Amen! Hallelujah!”

19:5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God

all you his servants,

and all you who fear Him,

both the small and the great!”

19:6 Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a vast throng, like the roar of many waters and like loud crashes of thunder. They were shouting:

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God, the All-Powerful, reigns!

19:7 Let us rejoice and exult

and give him glory,

because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

19:8 She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 19:10 So I threw myself down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Do not do this! I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

19:11 Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. 19:12 His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. 19:13 He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. 19:14 The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. 19:15 From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. 19:16 He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

19:17 Then I saw one angel standing in the sun, and he shouted in a loud voice to all the birds flying high in the sky:

“Come, gather around for the great banquet of God,

19:18 to eat your fill of the flesh of kings,

the flesh of generals,

the flesh of powerful people,

the flesh of horses and those who ride them,

and the flesh of all people, both free and slave,

and small and great!”

19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to do battle with the one who rode the horse and with his army. 19:20 Now the beast was seized, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf—signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur. 19:21 The others were killed by the sword that extended from the mouth of the one who rode the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

The Second Coming of Christ - Harry Anderson (abt. 1990)New King James Version

19 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”

6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

Rider on the White Horse - Unknown artistThe Message

19 I heard a sound like massed choirs in Heaven singing,

Hallelujah!

The salvation and glory and power are God’s—

his judgments true, his judgments just.

He judged the great Whore

who corrupted the earth with her lust.

He avenged on her the blood of his servants.

Then, more singing:

Hallelujah!

The smoke from her burning billows up

to high Heaven forever and ever and ever.

4 The Twenty-four Elders and the Four Animals fell to their knees and worshiped God on his Throne, praising,

Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!

5 From the Throne came a shout, a command:

Praise our God, all you his servants,

All you who fear him, small and great!

6–8 Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:

Hallelujah!

The Master reigns,

our God, the Sovereign-Strong!

Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,

let us give him the glory!

The Marriage of the Lamb has come;

his Wife has made herself ready.

imageShe was given a bridal gown

of bright and shining linen.

The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

9 The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’ ” He added, “These are the true words of God!”

10 I fell at his feet to worship him, but he wouldn’t let me. “Don’t do that,” he said. “I’m a servant just like you, and like your brothers and sisters who hold to the witness of Jesus. The witness of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11–16 Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.

17–18 I saw an Angel standing in the sun, shouting to all flying birds in Middle-Heaven, “Come to the Great Supper of God! Feast on the flesh of kings and captains and champions, horses and their riders. Eat your fill of them all—free and slave, small and great!”

19–21 I saw the Beast and, assembled with him, earth’s kings and their armies, ready to make war against the One on the horse and his army. The Beast was taken, and with him, his puppet, the False Prophet, who used signs to dazzle and deceive those who had taken the mark of the Beast and worshiped his image. They were thrown alive, those two, into Lake Fire and Brimstone. The rest were killed by the sword of the One on the horse, the sword that comes from his mouth. All the birds held a feast on their flesh.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

The Lake of Fire - Artist UnknownKing James Version

19 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and ihath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, qboth small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called sFaithful and tTrue, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and ghe treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database, LDSArt
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