Revelation – Lesson 12
In one sense, God’s character has been on the line since the Garden of Eden. Will He be able to redeem man, punish sin, reclaim the earth, and keep all of His promises without compromising his perfect character in some way? The heavenly chorus answers the question. It is done!! The celebration has begun. The original “Hallelujah Chorus” rings out.
Just a short time ago the outcome seemed bleak. The whole world seemed to be headed away from God to embrace the mark of the beast because of the supernatural signs and wonders being performed by the power of Satan. The people who refused the mark were being killed with a great slaughter. Where will it all end? Will the earth belong to Antichrist? It looked hopeless until God’s final judgments fell and the command was given for heaven to rejoice.
Chapter nineteen begins with heaven’s response. There is great rejoicing. HALLELUJAH!
- God has triumphed over His enemies,
- God has vindicated His character of justice,
- God has answered the prayers of martyrs,
- God takes the reins of the earth,
- The bride is ready for the bridegroom, and
- The glorious kingdom is at hand.
DAY ONE: THE HEAVENLY CHORUS REJOICES LOUDLY.
READ: Revelation 19:1-5
A. FIRST REFRAIN CELEBRATES BABYLON’S FALL.
The short reign of Antichrist in Babylon has caused much bloodshed. All of those who dwell in heaven must have been mourning as they watched this tragedy. When the evil city is suddenly judged like a boulder tossed into the sea, never to be seen again, the shouting begins.
Who is in this rejoicing throng? They sound like a great multitude (verse 1). It could include the angelic host, the martyred saints, and the king’s court. Whoever is included, their reaction suggests great relief, incredible joy, and great anticipation. God has been vindicated. This first refrain emphasizes His attributes:
- God is a God of salvation, power and glory. He is able to save by paying the penalty himself and offering salvation as a gift of grace.
- He has the power to win victory over his enemies. Glory belongs to Him in His perfection.
- He always judges with perfect justice. The judgment fits the crime and is always deserved. He gives opportunity to repent before judgment falls, so His character of mercy is not compromised.
- His grace is available for those who will take it. This is proven by the overcomers in the scenario. He condemned the great prostitute because she corrupted the earth and shed the innocent blood of God’s servants. The judgment is just.
B. SECOND REFRAIN CELEBRATES FINALITY OF BABYLON.
Again, the refrain begins with a shout of HALLELUJAH. The smoke of Babylon goes on forever and ever. There will never again be a revival of this evil city to corrupt the earth. This prompts the 24 elders and four living creatures to fall down, worship, and celebrate anew.
We often judge with bias and incomplete information and even thoughts of revenge. But God’s judgments are true and just and complete. We are told to forgive and repay evil with good. It is comforting to know we can leave vengeance to God’s perfect ways and perfect timing.
C. HEAVENLY AMEN FOCUSES ON GOD ALONE.
A voice from the throne turned their attention to God alone. The time has come to turn from rejoicing over Babylon’s fall and to focus on the future. They begin by hearing a voice from the throne itself. All who are servants of God are called to praise Him. What will happen next is the best news yet.
- What does God’s justice demand? (Proverbs 24:11-12)
- What is one thing that is intolerable to God? (Genesis 9:6)
- What has God promised regarding sins done to us? (Romans 12:19)
- What does 1 Peter 1:10-12 tell us about prophets and angels watching and waiting to see how God would bring all things to His prophesied end?
- When have you been overcome with joy at the workings of God?
- All of God’s servants were called to praise Him. How can you make this a regular part of your devotional time?
DAY TWO: THE MULTITUDE CELEBRATES THE LAMB’S WEDDING.
READ: Revelation 19:6-10
A. THE BRIDE IS READY.
It seems that the celebration song reaches a new height at this point. Think about all of the believers around the world who join together in this most joyous of celebrations. We can probably all remember an event where the singing was almost heavenly. This kind of worship lifts us to heights that nothing else can reach. This is certainly a grand moment to anticipate in heaven.
With the judgments on the great harlot and the fall of Babylon, God has paved the way for the joyous future. Only the final cleansing remains (19:17-21). When Jesus returns, He will accomplish this final task and then begin His reign. So now the praise focuses on the bride of Christ. Will she be ready?
What will the bride wear? She has made herself ready by adopting the pure, white garments of holiness and righteousness.
Ephesians 5:25-27 – Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
According to verse 8, she is wearing fine linen, bright and clean. We might contrast this attire with the purple and scarlet garb worn by the spiritual harlot. We can picture the beautiful bride in pure white with dazzling purity. This garment was given to her by God Himself.
B. THE GUESTS ARE INVITED.
Who are the guests at the wedding supper? The church saints collectively constitute the bride, but who will be the invited guests. They will not be the people with the mark of the beast! They could be tribulation saints, Old Testament saints, or angels. We do know that whoever is invited will be greatly blessed. This is a promise from God.
John is so overwhelmed that he falls down to worship at the feet of the angel who brought the revelation to him. But he is told quickly that angels are not to be worshipped. They are fellow servants with all believers. His message of prophecy is a part of Jesus’ testimony the same as all His words that we share with others. His role is no more important or worthy of worship than ours.
- How has Christ shown His love for His bride? (Ephesians 5:25-27)
- How is Christ’s sacrifice for His bride expressed in Romans 5:8?
- What does Revelation 19:7 command us to do in light of the Lamb’s wedding?
- We are told in Revelation 7:14 that the tribulation saints had made their garments white “in the blood of the lamb” or His death on the cross. Explain what this means to you personally.
- Think of the time when we are joined to Christ eternally as His beloved bride. What are you doing now to make sure you are a prepared bride? (2 Peter 3:14)
DAY THREE: THE BRIDEGROOM COMES.
READ: Revelation 19:11-21
A. JESUS COMES ON A WHITE HORSE.
A rider on a white horse is a symbol of a conquering ruler. Antichrist tried to imitate Christ in Revelation 6:2 by appearing on a white horse. But the defining element that identifies the real conqueror is in the name given. Jesus is called faithful and true. Everything He says is true and everything He does is in accordance with the will of God. He keeps every promise. The promise to return to rule on earth is about to be carried out.
B. JESUS COMES AS JUDGE AND KING OF KINGS.
- He is described in several ways that describe His person and mission:
- He is just in the way he judges and makes war.
- His eyes are all seeing so he is qualified to judge
- His crowns represent his divine authority to rule over the earth.
- He has a name that no one knows but himself – his intimate name from God that suggests personal relationship.
- His robe is dipped in blood, symbolizing His conquering of His enemies in the final battle.
- His name is the Word of God symbolizing that He is the ultimate expression of God’s revealed will.
He is not alone. He brings with Him armies of heaven, dressed in white linen. Although the armies accompany Him, He alone will win the battle. He has a sword in His mouth. From His command, the armies will be totally defeated. He will carry out the final wrath of God. His authority is obviously written on His person as God’s representative. He will rule with a rod of iron, meaning that his rule will be righteous and unbending.
The kingdom that is coming will be ruled by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will have absolute sovereignty over the earth.
C. ANGELS ANNOUNCE THE LAST GREAT BATTLE.
The angel summons the birds to feast on the bodies of the defeated armies of the nations brought to this battle site by Antichrist to fight against Christ. The King of Kings knows what the outcome of the Battle of Armageddon will be. The scavenger birds will be the cleanup crew. The menu will be great leaders, horses, kings, and people great and small who wear the mark of the beast. They have come together to destroy Christ and His army (19b)
D. KING OF KINGS DEFEATS THE FORCES OF EVIL.
The preparation for this great battle was introduced in Revelation 16:12-14. As the nations of the world are gathered, Christ quickly captures the beast and false prophet and throws them into the lake of fire. Then the rest of the armies were destroyed and left for the birds to devour. Just as the earth was created by the spoken word of God, the enemies of God are destroyed by the word of Christ.
- How does Paul describe the outcome of this battle in 2 Thessalonians 2:8?
- What is the purpose of the lake of fire? (Matthew 25:41)
- There is great carnage resulting from the last great battle. There will be no one left in the enemy camp to bury the dead bodies. How does God arrange for the earth to be cleaned up prior to the coming of the Kingdom?
- Christ’s piercing eyes look into the heart of man and He sees all things. How does the written Word accomplish the same thing? (Hebrews 4:12-13)
- As time permits, read Isaiah 63:1-6 and Joel 3. These passages describes God’s day of vengeance and redemption. Praise God for the just outcome of all things.
DAY FOUR: CHRIST PREPARES FOR HIS GLORIOUS REIGN.
READ: Revelation 20:1-6
A. SATAN IS BOUND FOR 1,000 YEARS.
Many people have longed for a time of peace on earth. We send greeting cards at Christmastime with this great anticipation. But there can be no peace on earth as long as Satan is roaming the earth seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8) so the next order of business is to remove Satan from the earth.
An angel from heaven comes with a chain to bind him and confine him to the abyss for 1000 years. He was not thrown into the lake of fire along with Antichrist and the false prophet because God will use him for one last challenge after the 1000 years are over.
Satan is identified by the use of four names:
- The dragon – See Revelation 12:3-17 for use of this name.
- Ancient serpent – Perhaps a reference to the seduction of Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-20; 2 Corinthians 11:3)
- The Devil – This word means accuser, describing one of his many activities against the saints of God. ( Revelation 12:10)
- Satan – This word means adversary or enemy of God.
B. RULERS ARE ESTABLISHED FOR MILLENNIAL KINGDOM.
Thrones are provided for those who are assigned to judge. Christ is preparing for taking command of the earth. Tribulation martyrs are resurrected to reign with Christ.
Different views have been held by Bible scholar regarding the millennial kingdom:
- Amillennialists reject the idea of a literal earthly kingdom with Christ ruling from David’s throne in Jerusalem. They see Christ as ruling over the church in this present age from His throne in heaven.
- Postmillennialists also reject the idea of a future earthly kingdom. They see the church Christianizing the world and ushering in a time of peace and righteousness. Then Christ will return and usher in the eternal state.
- Premillennialists – This view teaches that Christ will return bodily to earth and establish a literal 1000 year reign from the throne of David. This will be the time for fulfilling all of the Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel.
All students of prophecy must learn to hold their views with humility and grace. We must study and learn with an open heart and mind. God alone has the perfect interpretation of all of the details of the end times. It will be wonderful and triumphant when we experience the outcome. At that time it will seem perfectly clear!
C. TWO RESURRECTIONS ARE COMPARED.
John has just mentioned the resurrection of tribulation martyrs at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. The “first resurrection” is for the righteous or true believers from the earth. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 as well as this passage in Revelation, Paul tells us that it will be done in stages. Not only do these saints have the privilege of taking part in the kingdom of God, they are also told that they will not experience the second death or lake of fire where the wicked are sent as their final destination.
- What is the description and purpose of the abyss? (2 Peter 2:4)
- Which view do you hold regarding the millennial kingdom?
- According to Isaiah 2:2-3, where will the throne be if Christ rules from the earth for 1000 years?
- How is peace during the millennial reign described in Isaiah 2:3?
- What encouragement or blessing have you received from this lesson?
- What do you think it means to reign with Christ in the last days?
DAY FIVE: SATAN WILL FIGHT HIS LAST BATTLE.
READ: Revelation 20:7-15
A. SATAN GATHERS HIS ARMY AND IS DEFEATED.
One would think that after a thousand years of Christ’s peaceful and righteous kingdom all of the people on earth would be believers. However, many people have been born during the kingdom age. These people have been ruled by an iron rod to force them to cooperate with Christ’s reign. They have obeyed out of necessity. Now God will give them a choice.
One would also think that Satan would know that he is no match for Jesus Christ. But he gives it one last try.
Satan is released from the abyss He will try one more time to defeat God’s people and win over the people of the earth by deception. He goes all over the earth to gather rebels who are willing to fight against Israel. Satan is a master at deception and will amass quite an army. When he surrounds the city of Jerusalem, fire will come down from heaven and devour the rebels. Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever and ever.
B. UNBELIEVERS ARE JUDGED AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE.
As the last great event before the new heaven and new earth, unbelievers will be resurrected and judged according to what they have done in their earthly lives. This is the second resurrection. Somehow there is a change in the earth and sky at the time of this event. This could be the preparation for the new heaven and earth that will be a part of the eternal kingdom.
The basis for this judgment is a book of life that records the things that have been done by the ones being examined. People often tell of an experience of near death when their whole lives flashed before them. It is an awesome thought to have all of our deeds on a “permanent record” held by the judge of the universe! All people who were buried at sea and whose spirits were waiting in Hades were resurrected. If their names are not recorded in the book of life, their eternal destiny will be the lake of fire. This is identified as the second death. Death and Hades are thrown into the fire. In the new heaven and earth there will be no death and no need for Hades.
- Who do you think may be the person sitting on the white throne? (John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 4:1)
- How does Peter describe the elimination of this present earth and sky? (2 Peter 3:10-12)
- Who all are included in the second resurrection? (Revelation 20:5; 20:11-15)
- What does Paul say is the last enemy to be destroyed? (1 Corinthians 15:26)
- Read John 5:24-30. This passage clearly defines the two choices and the two destinations of every human being.
- Do you have a fear of death? Take comfort in reading 1 Corinthians 15:20, 54-57.
If you are the kind of person who loves “happily ever after” stories, you should be feeling warm and fuzzy by now. However, we end up feeling uneasy about the destiny of friends and relatives who have thus far refused to embrace Jesus as their savior and Lord. Perhaps this is the Holy Spirit nudging us to be bolder as the end times draw near. We have a beautiful story to tell and a wonderful future to offer to all men. May we be faithful witnesses as we bask in the knowledge of the wonderful future God has planned for His children.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
A perfect environment cannot produce a perfect heart. Salvation is through faith in Christ.
2 Peter 1:19 says that the prophetic Word of God shines like a light in a dark place. Share some new nugget of prophecy with someone this week.
About the author
LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]View all articles by: LaWanda Neel
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