There are seven major events of end-time prophecy, all of which are covered in the book of Revelation. In chapter 1 we see the resurrected, glorified Christ standing in the midst of the seven churches, typified by seven golden candlesticks. In his right are seven stars, which typify the angels or Pastors of the seven churches. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with the seven churches. While there were more than seven churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor in John’s day; the seven that were selected by the Holy Spirit, while certainly actual congregations with very real issues and needs, represent seven distinct periods of Church history; commencing with Ephesus the Apostolic Church, and concluding with Laodicea the Lukewarm, self-absorbed Church. This church represents the final church that will be on the earth just prior to the return of Jesus in the clouds to catch away His people.
In Chapter 4, “after these things” that concern the Church Age John sees a “door”, Thura in the Greek, indicative of a literal door, gate, or opening. Strong’s also suggests “portal” as a possible rendering of the word. I believe that is exactly what John saw. He saw an opening in the dimensional barrier that separates the natural from the spiritual realm. John goes through this opening and is transported in the Spirit into the very Throne Room of God. From chapter 4 all the way through to chapter 19, the Church is not referenced as being on the earth, but rather in Heaven, typified by the 24 Elders. In chapter 6 we see the rise of the Antichrist, typified by the “rider on a white horse”. We see the beginning of the Tribulation period here, lasting some seven years in duration.
The “Man of sin’s” reign of terror will be brought to an end at the glorious appearing of Christ, which is covered in the chapter before us today. I refer of course to chapter 19. As this chapter opens, the voices of Heaven become one chorus. John writes, 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: [Rev. 19:1] “After these things”, again is the Greek phrase, meta tauta. We first ran into this phrase back in 1:19 where John gave us the three-fold division of the book. You could literally translate it, “The things that shall be after these things.” After what things? After the Church things. Chapter 4 opened with this phrase, and we have been in the “after these things” mode ever since. There is a certain chronological progression in much of this, a sequence of events, if you will. Now we will see what will take place after the Great Tribulation. It is recorded in this chapter: The Second Coming of Christ. He is the only one who can bring an end to the Great Tribulation. Therefore this is the final occurrence of meta tauta in scripture.
Revelation 19 serves as a bridge between the Great Tribulation and the Kingdom Age. We see four occurrences of the word, Alleluia in this chapter. Interestingly, it does not occur anywhere else in the entire New Testament. It is quite prominent in the great hymn book of Israel, the book of Psalms. In fact, out of 150 Psalms, 15 either open or close with the word. The Alleluias let us know there is great joy in Heaven, while great anguish on the earth. While the world is reeling from the various plagues they have endured for the past seven years, and reeling from the judgment on the Great Whore of Babylon, and the destruction of the city of Babylon, there is rejoicing in Heaven due to the fact that the King of kings and Lord of lords is about to mount a white Horse of victory and return to the earth to destroy His enemies are incarcerate the Beast and False Prophet, along with every foul evil spirit and consign them to the bottomless pit for the 1,000-year Kingdom Age. Indeed, there is great joy in Heaven! This chapter reveals five reasons for Heaven’s joy.
- FULL SALVATION HAS COME: (19:1)
Again, the phrase After these things appearing here, as it does in every occurrence in the book; alerts us to a new vision. This vision occurs in between the judgment of the Babylons (17, 18) and the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ (19:11 – 21 to set up the Millennial Kingdom (20:1 – 10). This united chorus of voices, although we are not told, probably belong to angels and not the redeemed who lend their voices a bit later. [5 – 8] The untold millions of angels make for a majestic chorus. Their song begins with, again, Alleluia! This Greek word is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase combining the verb for “to praise” and the noun “God.” It appears in the New Testament, as we noted earlier, only in this chapter (verses 3, 4, 6)
Interestingly,in its first appearance in the Old Testament, alleluia also expresses praise for God’s judgment on the wicked oppressors of His people. [See Ps. 104:35] In the Greek the angel’s song doesn’t begin with ascribing salvation to God as it does in the English translation. It rather affirms the fact: “The salvation is God’s.” It really is the echo of the ancient utterance, “Salvation belongs unto God.” This lets each of us know for all time that this great salvation we have received is none of man and all of God. This means all three phases of salvation. Three phases? Yes, we receive our salvation in three phases, and they are all the work of God received by faith. The great Apostle wrote, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Eph. 2:8, 9] Now, I must admit, for some reason for years I read this verse and didn’t catch the depth of what Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit was conveying to us. Please note the word, saved here. It is the Greek, sozo, and is the all-inclusive word of the gospel. It appears in various forms some 120 times in the New Testament. 53 times it is translated, saved. It is, save, 41 times. It is also translated as, whole (11 times), healed (3 times), preserve (1 time), and well (1 time).
C.I. Scofield, editor of the great Scofield Reference Bible, on commenting on this word saved wrote, “The Hebrew, and (Greek, “sōtēria”, meaning “safety”, “preservation”, “healing”, and “soundness”). Salvation is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes: as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification.”[Scofield Reference Bible, comment on Romans 1:16] So, when we speak of salvation, we are speaking of everything Jesus purchased for us at Calvary. Every aspect and process of it is received or appropriated by faith. We receive justification, the first phase of salvation (although technically we must be sanctified, made clean first, before we can be declared clean) by faith. We receive sanctification, the process of salvation that begins upon believing faith and continues until death or the Trump sounds where we live for God and are being conformed to the image of Christ. We will at the resurrection (rapture) receive glorification, where this mortal will put on immortality, where corruption will put on incorruption and we will have a body fashioned after His glorious body. Every part of the salvation package is received by faith. It is entirely the work of God, none of us. It is fitting then that this angel chorus of praise and worship begins with salvation. There is praise ascending because of the final glorification of the saints entering the Kingdom Age. Full salvation will have come!
2. JUSTICE IS PROVIDED: (19:2)
For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. [Rev. 19:2] I find it interesting that at the end of these judgments, those in Heaven, who have more perfect knowledge than you and I have, are able to say that God’s judgments are true and right. If you don’t think that what God is doing is right, it is you who are wrong and not God. There is no person who will ever stand before a thrice Holy God and be able to say that He is anything other than true and right and absolutely just in all that He does. Perfect justice will be provided at the Coming of Christ to rule and to reign.
3. REBELLION IS ENDED: (19:3)
And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. [19:3] The judgment on Babylon provoked the first outburst of heavenly rejoicing. The aftermath of her destruction prompts the heavenly chorus to again say, alleluia! They are rejoicing because this judgment is eternal and irrevocable. The cry of Revelation 6:10 is answered here in the blood of the martyrs being avenged. From this time on sin and sinners, Satan and his evil spirits and demon spirits will never again be able to exert authority. They are forever done, and Jesus’ victory at the Cross made it all possible. The language concerning the judgment of Babylon is similar to that used of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah [Gen. 19:28], and Edom [Isa. 34:10]
The destruction of the last and most powerful Empire in human history marks the end of human rule. The rebellion that began in the Garden of Eden is finally ended (with the exception of the revolt at the end of the Millennium Revelation 20:7 – 10). There will be no more false religion or injustice.
4. GOD IS IN CONTROL: (19:4 – 6)
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 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. [19:4 – 6]
At this point the redeemed in Heaven lend their voices to this heavenly chorus. The twenty-four elders are best understood as representatives of the Church in Heaven. “Beasts” is an unfortunate translation here (although it is not incorrect.; it gives a connotation which may be misunderstood by some), “Living creatures” or, “living ones” I submit would be more accurate. These, Zoon in the Greek, seem to be a special angelic order separate from Cherubim or Seraphim, although some refer to them as high ranking Cherubim. Here they are prostrate before the Throne of God in worship to the Most High God, lending their voices to the growing crescendo.
Notice that the call to praise God comes directly out of the Throne. It is an unidentified voice, but it seems improbable that this would be the voice of the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, unless of course Christ is identifying Himself with His Church and is referring to the Father as His God and hers. It seems more likely that the voice may belong to one of the 24 Elders and the voice is coming from the throne nearest the Throne of God, as the elders are situated around the Throne. At any rate, this mighty anthem of praise, the true “Hallelujah Chorus” in Heaven, is lifted up because the Lord Jesus is preparing to take back control of the world. What a day that will be! This takes us all the way back to the Covenant that God made with David in which He promised to raise one upon David’s throne who would rule the world. In 2 Samuel 7:16 we read, And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
It is certain before Christ Returns to this earth there is going to be a wedding, and you and I are a part of it! That should be a cause of rejoicing among all of the redeemed. Those in Heaven are rejoicing. I suggest we join them!
5. THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB IS COMPLETED: (19:7 – 10)
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. 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. 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. 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. [19:7 – 10]
This will be the most thrilling experience the believer will ever have. Think of it, the whole body of believers, from Pentecost to the rapture, will at this time be presented to Christ as a bride for marriage. My dear brethren who teach that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation, and that believers rising to meet the Lord in the air referred to by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 are just going out to meet the Lord and then immediately return with Him to earth; totally miss the imagery of the Jewish Wedding employed throughout prophecy. The entire process was a picture of Christ and the Church. The preparation process surrounding ancient wedding practices was even more elaborate and involved than ours in Western culture. The Jewish wedding consisted of three distinct phases that I believe are each important to understand for the believer. 1) – Betrothal: This was a contract negotiated by both sets of parents and was legally binding. It could only be broken by the issuing of a bill of divorce. [See Matt. 1:18, 19] 2) – Presentation: This was a time of festivities right before the actual ceremony. It could last a week or more, depending on the social and economic standing of the bride and groom. 3) – Ceremony: This third and final stage is obviously the most significant of all. Here of course the vows are exchanged. At the end of the presentation festivities, the groom and his attendants would go to the bride’s house and take her and the bridesmaids to the ceremony. After the ceremony would come a final meal, followed by the consummation of the marriage.
All of the heavenly chorus is encouraged to rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him because all of the preparation is complete and the Marriage of the Lamb has come. We were betrothed in eternity past, presented in the Father’s House since the rapture, and now the Church is ready for the wedding ceremony to begin. This will coincide with the beginning of the Kingdom Age and stretch throughout that thousand-year period, finally consummated in the new heavens and new earth, the bride concept will be expanded to include not only the Church, but also all of the redeemed of all ages as the New Jerusalem becomes the bridal city [See 21:1, 2].
In preparation for the wedding, his wife hath made herself ready. This has not been done by self effort or through the keeping of laws however. The bride has made herself ready in the power of God, by the grace of God, through the work of the Spirit of God [See Phil. 2:12, 13; Col. 1:29]. Now purged from all sin and impurity [1 Cor. 3:12 – 15], she is a flawless, blameless virgin. Having been presented glorified and spotless before God’s Throne the Church is able to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. This is expensive and beautiful cloth, like that worn by Joseph [See Gen. 41:42]. “White” here in the KJV might be rendered as “bright” as the NKJV, NASB, YLT, and ESV have it. The Greek is, lampros, and means “radiant, shining, brilliant, bright, clear, splendid, and magnificent.” These dazzling garments were worn earlier by angels [See 15:6], and will be the clothing of those in Heaven when Christ Returns [Vs. 4].
Notice, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. Who is this group? Who are the wedding guests? It certainly is not the Bride. How many brides do you know who are invited to their own wedding? This group will be made up of Old Testament believers. Both Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28 mention Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being in the Kingdom. Luke 13:28 also mentions the Prophets. All of the heroes of the faith of Hebrews 11 will be among the invited guests, as will John the Baptist [See Matt. 11:11]. All of the Tribulation saints, as well as those still alive on earth and entering the Kingdom Age will be invited as well. Some may ask why the Church is singled out for this honor. The same question could be asked concerning Israel being God’s Covenant people. The answer to both is God’s sovereign choice in doing so. It is as simple as that. This being the case however, it must be remembered that there will be no second-class citizens in God’s Kingdom, just as all the participants in the wedding enjoy the celebration. And in the new heavens and new earth , all believers of all ages will enjoy the full glories of eternity.
It is important to understand here that while the wedding of the bridegroom to the bride will occur in Heaven, the wedding supper will be held on the earth. This is pictured in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1 – 13. The bridegroom will return to earth for the marriage supper. He will return not only to judge the earth, but to have the marriage supper, which the ten virgins will be expected to attend. There is an Old Testament picture of this in Psalm 45. In this Psalm Christ is seen as coming as king. We are not told who she is, but the queen is there: Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. This appears to be a picture of the Church. Guests are also present [See vs. 12].
I can only imagine how breath-taking a scene this must have been for John, acting as a scribe for that which was playing out in front of him. He feels compelled to worship the heavenly messenger, however he is restrained from doing so. The angel is a created being. Only God is to be worshiped.
After the wedding supper, the next great event will be the Return of Christ to the earth. The King is Coming friends! He will not come however until the Church is caught away, and until after the earth has undergone the Great Tribulation. When He Returns to earth His bride will be with him. What a glorious day that will be!
We examined the first ten verses of this chapter this time. I want to look at verses 11 – 21 next time. Plan to join me.