HaSatan Again “At Large”

Revelation 20:7-10
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:4-6 ~ The Thousand-Year Reign. In this post, we continue in Chapter 20 to discover HaSatan Again “At Large.”  But don’t be alarmed!  God is still on the throne and in control.

7 When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore; 9 and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  ~ Revelation 20:7-10 (CJB)

Bavel, the Beast, and the False Prophet – the agencies through which HaSatan had done his destructive work – have been destroyed (chaps. 17-19), and HaSatan’s own time has come at last. He makes a furious but brief and futile effort to regain his hold on the earth.

Magog is the general name of the northern nations of Yafet’s posterity (Noach’s third son) (Genesis 10:2). Gog is their prince. In Ezekiel 38-39 they attack God’s people from the north. Here they are from the four corners of the earth. Probably these names are used to refer to the enemies of God from among all nations.

How could HaSatan muster such a vast following, when he had been bound for 1000 years, and there had been a reign of righteousness? The answer lies in the fact that, like now, the people living during the Millennium will have free will, just as God created them from the beginning.

When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore. The final curtain on HaSatan‘s devious relationship with humanity is going up. HaSatan is going to be tested for one last time; the unredeemed of this earth are going to be tempted by the master Tempter one final time. Man today faces three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. However, during the Millennium, while HaSatan is bound, and the world is reformed under the rule of Yeshua, the only real problem that man will face will be the flesh! But, because of man’s sinful nature, there will still be some who will not turn to Yeshua and be saved during the Millennium. These HaSatan will gather around him, as every man and woman of the unredeemed will again yield to the subtle tempter and will join his ranks.

David Stern suggests we should: [1]

Compare the structure of Ezekiel 36-48 with Revelation 20-22. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks of Israel’s salvation, with David ruling over them (compare Revelation 20:1-6). In Ezekiel 38-39 Gog from Magog interrupts this rule with an eschatological battle, in which the nations come against the Kingdom (compare Revelation 20: 7-10). The final order is described in Ezekiel 40-48 in terms of a rebuilt temple in a new Jerusalem (compare Revelation 21-22). In both places, a temporal kingdom is followed by an eternal kingdom after a final war.

Ezekiel writes that Gog, from the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval, will come with armies from a number of other places against the Jewish people regathered into the Land of Israel from the other nations and living at peace in unwalled towns. Those nations are the same in Ezekiel 38 as in Ezekiel 27, in the lament against the king of Tyre, who is, as is clearest from Ezekiel 28:11-19, a stand-in for Satan.

And they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Tim LaHaye, talking about this time of rebellion, adds these words: [2]

But in spite of all the ideal conditions arranged by God to attract a maximum number of people to accept His free salvation by receiving His Son, millions will rebel at the end of the thousand-year kingdom, for Revelation 20 indicates that at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit to go out “to deceive the nations” – that is, to tempt them to rebel against God. The reason for this tempting is so that all the people living on the earth who are still unsaved will be forced to make a decision about whether they will receive Christ before God establishes the eternal order. We have already seen that these will be people under 100 years of age, according to Isaiah 65:20, for only believers, will live past their hundredth birthday. The sad part of this whole story is that even after living for almost a hundred years under the righteous reign of Christ, there will be a multitude “whose number is as the sand of the sea” who will rebel against God when given the opportunity. Among other things, this suggests that it isn’t entirely Satan’s fault that people reject faith in Christ, but results from the rebellion of their own will. Satan is coming on the scene at this point only brings to the surface the rebellion of many hearts who, like many Jews of our Lord’s day, “willed not to come” to Him that they might have eternal life (John 5:40).

The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  This is the final event in the long and wicked history of the one who originated rebellion against God. Already at the beginning, after enticing Adam and Eve to commit the first human sin, God knew and said what the end would be:

“I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman [Eve], and between your seed [all who sin and rejoice in the sin of others, whether angelic (Ep 6:10-13) or human (Ro 1:32)] and her seed [her descendants, i.e., humanity; but more particularly, the unique “seed” spoken of in Ga 3:16, Yeshua]; he [the Hebrew is singular, referring to Yeshua, not plural] will bruise [or: crush] your head, and you will bruise their heel [the Hebrew is plural; humanity can be injured, Yeshua cannot].” ~ Genesis 3:15 [3]

This prediction of HaSatan’s ultimate downfall is fulfilled in stages. Thus when Yeshua said: Now is the time for this world to be judged, now the ruler of this world will be expelled” (Yochanan 12:31), He was speaking of how His death on the execution-stake would defeat the Adversary (compare Revelation 12). The Messianic Community also has a part in causing HaSatan‘s ruin, as Sha’ul writes, “God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet” (Romans 16:20). In vv. 1-3 above that Adversary is chained in the Abyss, and here he is hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur to be tormented forever and ever.

May it be soon!

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:7-10 [4]

For Premillennialists, the reason for God permitting HaSatan this last brief respite seems to be to prove the character of those generations born during the Millennium and never previously tempted to rebellion.  The city is earthly Jerusalem. This battle is waged by God alone.  All three views opine that the time frame for HaSatan’s handiwork will be very brief.

Amillennialists believe the city is the New Jerusalem described in Chapter 21.

Postmillennialists believe there is no reason to exclude the possibility of actual fire since such will accompany Yeshua in His final judgment. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Kefa 3:10, 12).

In my next post, we’ll examine The End of the World in Revelation 20:11-15.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[3] David Stern’s amplified version.

[4] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Thousand-Year Reign

Revelation 20:4-6
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:1-3 ~ The Binding of the Dragon. In this post, we continue in Chapter 20 to examine The Thousand-Year Reign.

4 Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. ~ Revelation 20:4-6 (CJB)

Will Yeshua literally reign for one thousand years on the earth? Revelation 20:1-7 mentions the one thousand years six times. It is as if Yochanan wanted to make sure there was no dispute about this literal, earthly reign of Yeshua. Personally, I believe this is a literal, thousand-year period, when the Lord of Glory will be the King of the earth.

Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. The thrones mentioned are probably twelve in number, one for each of the Twelve Emissaries. Compare Matthew 19:28, where Yeshua speaking to the Twelve Emissaries says: “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el.

The Twelve Emissaries are not the only ones who will reign with Yeshua, as the Redeemed will, also, be rulers and judges with Him during the millennial era. And they sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. 10 You made them into a kingdom for God to rule, cohanim to serve him, and they will rule over the earth.” ~ Revelation 5:9-10 (CJB). Also note the words of Sha’ul: Don’t you know that God’s people are going to judge the universe? If you are going to judge the universe, are you incompetent to judge these minor matters?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:2 (CJB). The last group mentioned to have part in the thousand year reign is those who lived and died during the Tribulation period. Revelation Chapter Seven, which is parenthetical, gave a picture of those coming to Yeshua in which there were 144,000 Jews, plus a huge crowd, too large for anyone to count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language.” Revelation 7:9 (CJB).

David Stern opines that we should also compare Daniel’s prophecy: “As I looked, thrones were placed,… and millions… sat in judgment… And the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:9-10, 22)  According to G. E. Ladd: [1]

“[Revelation 20:4-6] is the only passage in the entire Bible which teaches a temporal millennial kingdom, and there is only one other passage in the New Testament which may envisage a temporal reign of Christ between his parousia [coming] and the telos [consummation, final goal]: I Cor. 15:23-24.” (Revelation, p. 267) 

“(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection.”  The rest of the dead are those who refused to accept Yeshua as Lord and Savior and they will be brought back to life at the close of the thousand years to face the Great White Throne Judgment. The sentence about these unredeemed ones is placed in the midst of the narrative about those who are of the first resurrection, and in some translations is placed in parentheses (as Stern does) to set it apart from those who have already experienced resurrection and are reigning with Yeshua.

The question as to the number of resurrections that will take place has divided Bible students down through the centuries. How many are there? Some believe there is only one and hold strong to their position, while others believe there are two resurrections. Read the words of Yeshua: “Don’t be surprised at this; because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice and come out — those who have done good to a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment. ~ John 5:28-29 (CJB)  It seems that Yeshua makes it very clear that there are two resurrections. The first he calls the resurrection of life, the second He calls the resurrection of judgment. Yeshua was never ambiguous in His teaching, and here He set forth the fact that there are two resurrections, without pointing out a time lapse between them. Remember also that our text in Revelation refers to the first resurrection. The fact that there is a first resurrection automatically implies that a second resurrection must follow.

Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him, the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. Now, we can easily understand this statement of clarity. For those who know the Lord, they shall have part in this first resurrection and will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. But for those who refuse to believe in Yeshua and experience salvation, there remains only judgment and confinement in hell, which is the second death for all of eternity.

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:4-6 [2]

 For Premillennialists, there is much dispute over the identity of the persons who were seated on the thornes. Most seem to prefer the view that all the saints of the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah are included citing a more inclusive view of Matthew 19:28. The right of authority to judge suggests that they participated with Yeshua in the judicial rule of the nations during the Millennium. Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection implies because they are the only ones living on earth during the Millennium will escape the second death to live in the New Jerusalem.

Two views prevail among Amillennialists concerning the venue of the saints in this vision.  The older view, proposed by Augustine, sees the spiritual reign of Believers on earth in the present age.  An alternate, more widely accepted today, describes the blessedness of the departed saints in heaven after death, but before the resurrection.  They argue that the expression “a thousand years,” although frequently found throughout Scripture, is never used for an actual number of years, but only to suggest the idea of a very long time.

Postmillennialists believe the “thousand years” refers to the progressive victory of the Besorah in the latter part of the present age. The meaning of the first resurrection is not a unanimously settled matter. One view sees the revival of the martyr spirit in these latter days; while the other view sees it referring to the martyrs in the early Kehilah. Yet a third view sees the phrase as a figurative way of referring to the regeneration of the Believer. Or, it may simply mean  Yeshua’s resurrection.

In my next post, we’ll examine HaSatan Again “At Large” in Revelation 20:7-10.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Binding of the Dragon

Revelation 20:1-3
The End Times

In my last post, we dug a little deeper into The Three Views of the Millenial Rule of Yeshua. In this post, we begin our exploration of Revelation 20:1-3 ~ The Binding of the Dragon.

“Next I saw an angel coming down from heaven, who had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and HaSatan [the Adversary], and chained him up for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, locked it and sealed it over him; so that he could not deceive the nations any more until the thousand years were over. After that, he has to be set free for a little while.” ~ Revelation 20:1-3 (CJB)

HaSatan’s expulsion from heaven in Revelation 12:9 was connected with the start of the Great Tribulation; here HaSatan’s binding is connected with the Second Coming of Yeshua. Some think the two passages refer to the same event, but in chapter 12 HaSatan made trouble for the earth, while here he is kept from causing trouble. The Abyss was the home of his demons (Luke 8:31). HaSatan’s domain presided over by one of his archangels (Revelation 9:11), now becomes his prison. He had been the ruler of this world, but will not be during the Millennium. The Abyss is not the lake of fire and sulfur in verse 10, which will be the final destination of the HaSatan.

Next I saw an angel coming down from heaven, who had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his hand. There are two possibilities as to the identity of this angel; either it is Mikha’el the archangel or the Lord Yeshua Himself. It is known from Scripture that no ordinary angel could handle HaSatan in this fashion. Realizing all the destructive ruin caused by HaSatan, it seems only fitting that Yeshua Himself would handle this task. The other reason for selecting Yeshua is the fact that Mikha’el and HaSatan seem to possess comparable power! Remember the dispute between Mikha’el and the Devil, recorded in Jude verse nine: “When Mikha’el, one of the ruling angels, took issue with the Adversary, arguing over the body of Moshe, he did not dare bring against him an insulting charge, but said, ‘May Adonai rebuke you.’”  Mikha’el knew his limitations and left the fate of HaSatan to Yeshua. Oliver Greene comments: [1]

We need not speculate on the identity of the angel in our first verse, it is the angel of the Lord. In Revelation 1:18 we read that Jesus has the keys of hell and death, and He would not trust those keys to anyone else. I believe He personally binds Satan and puts him into the bottomless pit, thus denoting by sealing the pit that the government of Almighty God is behind the prison term of Satan, and will see to it that he does not escape.

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and HaSatan [the Adversary], and chained him up for a thousand years. The Life Application Commentary posses an interesting question:

Why is there a Millennium? Why doesn’t God go straight from Armageddon to eternity? Why this interim and then another final battle – Gog and Magog? We don’t know, but it appears that unbelievers on earth are given the opportunity to experience what the rule of God is like. However, as shown in the following verses, even though unbelievers will experience the reign of Christ, they will continue to rebel against God even without Satan’s deceptive influence. And the moment that Satan is let out of the prison, these people will flock after Satan and go to war against Christ. This will prove their absolute depravity, their true allegiance, and the necessity of the final punishment in the lake of fire.

 He threw him into the Abyss, locked it and sealed it over him; so that he could not deceive the nations any more until the thousand years were over. After that, he has to be set free for a little while. In looking back and reviewing Revelation 9:1-6, the Abyss would appear to be the abode of HaSatan and his demon followers, which raises a question about demons. If Satan is going to be bound for 1000 years, what will happen to the demons during this time? Although Yochanan doesn’t address this question in the book of Revelation, there is a hint of what will happen to them in Isaiah, chapters twenty-four through twenty-seven. These chapters are often referred to as the little apocalypse. A close study of these four chapters will give the Bible student a more complete knowledge as to what all is taking place at this time, in addition to that which is recorded in the book of Revelation.

With a particular interest in the fate of demons read specifically Isaiah 24:21-23: “When that day comes, Adonai will punish the armies of the high heaven on high, and the kings of the earth here on earth. 22 They will be assembled like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in prison to be punished many years. 23 Then the moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Adonai-Tzva’ot will rule on Mount Tziyon and in Yerushalayim, with his glory manifest to the rulers of his people. By this it would seem the demons along with HaSatan will be banished from this earth for 1,000 years.

David Stren gives this background for our consideration. [2]

The ideas of binding demonic beings and of punishing them with eternal fire are also found in the Jewish Apocrypha (Tobit 8:3) and pseudepigrapha (1 Enoch 10:4-17, 18:12-19:2, 21:1-6, 54:4-6; Testament of Levi 18:12; Jubilees 48:15-16), and in Christian Apocrypha (Acts of Pilate 22:2).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 20:1-3 [3]

Premillennialists interpret Next to suggest a chronological sequence following the events of Chapter 19.  Hence the events described in Chapter 20 are to occur after the Second Coming of Yeshua.  They view the angel as Mikha’el the archangel. There can be no doubt that the earth is still experiencing satanically inspired deception today, which challenges any interpretation that this vision would make HaSatan to be currently bound. After his release, there will be one final rebellion following the 1,000-year reign of Yeshua.

Amillennialists believe that Next speaks only to the order in which the visions were presented to Yochanan, not the chronology of its fulfillment. They think that the angel is Mikha’el the archangel or the Lord Yeshua Himself. They see this passage as entirely symbolic. They think that HaSatan was bound by the death and resurrection of Yeshua.

Postmillennialists concur with the Premillennialists as to the meaning of Next, but the successful preaching of the Besorah precedes Yeshua’s Second Coming. His Second Coming will be revealed in verse 9ff.  The view the events of this chapter as following the blowing of the seventh shofar in chapter 11.  They do believe that there will be a Millennium that will result from the preaching and teaching of the Besorah.

In my next post, we’ll examine The Thousand-Year Reign in Revelation 20:4-6.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Three Views of Yeshua’s Millennial Rule

The End Times

In my last post, we continued our practice of summarizing the Four Views from the previous segment in our exploration of the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan and introduced The Three Views of the Millennial Rule of Yeshua.  In this post, I want to dig a little deeper into those Three Views before examing Chapter 20.

Henry H. Halley defines the Three Views as: [1]

Amillennialism:   This approach suggests that the millennium represents the current reign of the redeemed saints with Christ in heaven. It is thought that the present-day form of God’s kingdom will be followed by Christ’s return, a general resurrection, and the final White Throne Judgment. After this, Christ will continue to reign over the perfect new heaven and new earth for an eternity. In this approach, the 1000 years is figurative and represents an eternal amount of time.

Premillennialism:  This approach (which is the main approach used in his commentary) suggests that the present form of God’s kingdom is rapidly approaching the glorious return of Christ, which will occur after a seven-year period of tribulation. With Christ’s return, Satan will be bound in the Abyss, and the first resurrection will occur. All the redeemed saints in heaven will return to the earth with Christ to reign with Him for a literal 1000 years. This millennial period will be characterized predominately by peace – at least initially. As the millennial period progresses, the earth will become repopulated with people who have free will. Over time, people’s self-confidence and pride will harden their hearts. God will loose Satan for a short time at the end of the 1000 years. Satan will make one last effort to war with God. God will strike Satan and all who have joined to fight Him with a fire that devours them. God will throw Satan into the lake of burning sulfur to be tormented eternally. This is followed by the White Throne Judgment and a second resurrection of the millennial-age saints. Finally, God will establish a new heaven and new earth, where He will dwell with His people forever.

Postmillennialism:  This approach assumes that eventually the world will be evangelized – in other words, all the world’s people will accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. This will result in a long period of world peace called the Millennium. This glorious period of time will be followed by Christ’s second coming, the resurrection of the dead, the White Throne Judgment and the establishment of an eternal new heaven and new earth.

David Stern has some interesting insights from a Messianic Jewish perspective: [2]

Premillennialism alone expects a future Millennium in which the Messiah himself will rule on earth, and I share this opinion. But I also agree with Lance Lambert, a Messianic Jew living in Jerusalem, who writes:

“It is my belief that there will be a millennium. It would not alter my faith or joy in the Lord if there were no such period. I find myself unable to hold such a conviction in an argumentative or hotly dogmatic spirit. If we are honest, both views present us with problems which are not easily answered. The vital need is to be ready for the Lord’s coming and for all that will follow it.” (Till the Day Dawns, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1982, p. 160)

A millennium of sorts appears in the lengthy collection of opinions about Messianic times found in Chapter 11 of Babylonian Talmud tractate Sanhedrin:

“Rav Kattina said, ‘The world will exist for six thousand years, then for one thousand years it will lie desolate….'” (Sanhedrin 97a)  This passage and a related one are quoted fully and discussed in 2 Kefa 3:3-9.

Likewise, although the events leading up to the Messianic Age are described differently in the Zohar (the central text of Jewish mysticism compiled in the 13th century), it tells us:

 “Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into [the millennium of] the Shabbat.” (Zohar 1:119a) Compare this with Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 4:1-11.

Steve Gregg has these additional insights regarding the Three Views: [3]

Each of the Three Views can present an impressive exegetical argument in its defense, each has been advocated by remarkable conservative scholars, and each has enjoyed its own period of prominence in the thinking of the Western church.

Among Premillennialists, there are two significant varieties:  the dispensational and the historic.  The critical departure between these two groups is that the former believe in a special status for the nation of Israel in the redemptive work of God in the End Times, resulting in a restored millennial Temple in Jerusalem complete with Levitical priests and animal sacrifices.  The Historic Premillennialists see the church, rather than ethnic Israel as prominent in the millennial period.  Dispensationalist also believe that the Rapture occurs seven years before the start of the Millennium, whereas others see the Rapture of the church simultaneously with the Second Coming of Yeshua.

Postmilennialists find in Chapter 20 a consummation of history in the 1,000-year reign of Yeshua on earth. Peace will be restored through the agency of the Word of God and the Ruach.

Amillennialists take their name from the denial that there will be a unique golden age of literally 1,000 years, either before or after the Second Coming of Yeshua.  Chapter 20 is understood symbolically or spiritually.  The time frame is seen to be the whole time between Yeshua’s First and Second Coming.

In my next post, we’ll dig into the content of Chapter 20.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Halley’s Bible Handbook: Deluxe Edition.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

Summary of Revelation Chapters 17-19

The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 3.  In this post, we continue our practice of summarizing the Four Views from the previous segment in our exploration of the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan and an introduction to the Millenial Rule of Yeshua.

Summary of Revelation Chapters 17-19 [1]

These chapters describe the conclusion of the careers of Yeshua’s earthly enemies, the Anti-Messiah and the False Prophet.

Historicist Approach:

Historicists see this segment as a protracted celebration of the future downfall of papal Rome.  Yeshua is seen riding forth in victory, making further conquests through His Word throughout the world.

Preterist Approach: 

On Preterist suppositions, Bavel maybe Rome, the imperial city, which was to be sacked and destroyed by its subject nations. Otherwise, Bavel represents apostate Jerusalem, sacked and burned by the Romans.  The choice between these options rests upon the decision whether the second half of Revelation has turned attention from the fall of Jerusalem to the fall of Rome. There is no consensus on this point.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists differ as to the identity of Bavel.  It may be the ancient Bavel in Iraq, or ancient Rome revived in the last days. It may represent the Roman Catholic Church or some world council of churches that have defected from Yeshua and persecuted His followers.  Regardless of the exact identification, these chapters exult in the corrupt system’s demise and foresee the victorious return of Yeshua from heaven in Chapter 19.

Idealist Approach:

The Idealist interpretation sees Bavel as the seductive world system, described in terms reminiscent of Rome, its chief expression of Yochanan’s day.  This system seeks both to seduce and to persecute the Kehilah but will succumb to the power of Yeshua either at His Second Coming or gradually through the progress of the Besorah.

Summary of Revelation Chapters 20 ~ The Millennium[2]

What is the meaning of the “1,000 Years”?   When do these events occur?

Our study of Revelation to this point has taken the form of comparison of the Four Views in interpreting the events prophesied in Chapters 4 through 19.  Those views were based on entirely different assumptions as to the time frame, geographical extent, and the duration of the judgments depicted as seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath.

For many readers, however, the most interesting question to be resolved in the book of Revelation concerns the meaning of the final chapters, and particularly chapter 20.  Unfortunately, the Four Views cannot be applied to these final chapters.  The interpretation of these final chapters comprises what is arguably the chief controversy in eschatological studies, if not in all evangelical theology.  Consequently, we will switch gears and examine Three ViewsPremillennial, Amillennial and Postmillennial Approach.  A summary of those views is:

Premillennial Approach:

  • The binding of HaSatan is yet future. It will take place when Yeshua returns.
  • The 1,000 years are a literal period during which Yeshua will reign on earth from Jerusalem, with His people.
  • The loosing of HaSatan will bring the Millennium to its climax, followed by the resurrection and judgment of the wicked at the Great White Throne.
  • The new heavens and new earth will be created after the Millennium, i.e., 1,000 years after Yeshua’s Second Coming.

Amillennial Approach:

  • The binding of HaSatan represents the victory of Yeshua over the powers of darkness accomplished on the execution stake.
  • The 1,000 years is symbolic of an extended, indeterminate period, corresponding to the age of the Kehillah (now).
  • HaSatan will be loosed briefly to wreak havoc and to persecute the Kehilah at the end of the present age.
  • The fire coming from heaven and consuming the wicked is symbolic of Yeshua’s Second Coming.
  • The general resurrection and judgment of the evil and the good will occur at Yeshua’s Coming, followed by the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

Postmillennial Approach:

  • Some interpret the chapter essentially as do the Amillennialists, but with an added note of optimism about the success of the Besorah in the present age.
  • Others see the binding of HaSatan to represent a future point in time when the successful preaching of the Besorah will efficiently have reduced HaSatan’s influence to nothing.

In my next post, we’ll dig a little deeper into the Premillennial, Amillennial and Postmillennial Approach before actually delving into the content of Chapter 20.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

[2] Ibid.

The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 3

Revelation 19:11-21
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 2. In this post, we continue to examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 3.

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” 14 The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is He who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!” 19 I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. ~ Revelation 19:11-21 (CJB)

An Angel Calls Forth the Flesh-Eating Birds (19:17-18)

 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!”  The imagery is from the book of Ezekiel 39:17-20, although Ezekiel is speaking of the battle of Gog and Magog, which does not appear in Revelation until 20:8. Yochanan now witnesses the aftermath of the most devastating conflict in human history. He caught a glimpse of this struggle in Revelation, chapter nine, and then another aspect of it in Revelation, chapter sixteen. But now, he witnesses the results in gory detail. The number of men slaughtered will range from two hundred to four hundred million, representing all the nations of the world. Gary Cohen and Salem Kirban add these thoughts: [1]

Here an angel standing with the sun as his background invites the carrion of the sky to “THE SUPPER OF THE GREAT GOD.” Thus this chapter speaks of two end-time contrasting suppers. “THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB” which will be a feast of unbounding joy as the redeemed partake of this feast together with their wonderful Lord. The armies of the redeemed who come with their Lord (19:14) will have part in this grand banquet. The armies of the wicked nations that in the end-time choose to follow Antichrist, the Beast shall at this Revelation appearance of Jesus Christ be involved in this other supper (19:17-18). These shall be slain by “the brightness of His coming” and their dead bodies shall lie upon the ground lifeless to be picked at by the crows, hawks, and vultures 2 Thess. 2:8. This is a Supper of Death to which the followers of Antichrist will attend; while those who love Christ will attend the Supper of Life!

The Doom of the Beast and False Prophet: Revelation (19:19-21)

I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and His army. 20 But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. There will be no doubt as to the outcome of this battle. In the previous Scripture, the birds of prey are summoned to prepare themselves for a feast.

Here is God’s answer to the logical conundrum, “How do you throw away the trash can?” The beast… and with him the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur (compare Ezekiel 38:22), “prepared for the Adversary and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).  At Revelation 20:10, HaSatan himself joins these angels of his to be tormented forever and ever. Death and Sh’ol themselves are thrown into this lake of fire, as there is no longer any need for them. And in the final judgment of humanity, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire” (20:15).

And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. In Judaism, following biblical practice, the honored dead are buried. Not to be buried is a disgrace (see 2 Kings 9:34), and being torn apart by buzzards and dogs is the ultimate disgrace (note Yeshua’s figurative use of this fact at Matt. 24:28).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 19:11-21 [2]

See the explanation for each of the four views in Part 1 of the Rider on the White Horse.

In my next post, we’ll examine a Summary of Chapters 17-19 and an Introduction to Revelation 20 ~ The Millennium.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 2

Revelation 19:11-21
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 1. In this post, we continue to examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 2.

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” 14 The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is He who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!” 19 I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. ~ Revelation 19:11-21 (CJB)

The Armies of Heaven Follow the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (19:14-16)

14 The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is He who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Who is this army following Yeshua? Some think they might be angels; however, a close examination of the verse seems to imply otherwise. Note that they are clothed in fine linen, white and pure. Look back to verse eight where there is a description of the Bride of Yeshua. It says fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear” (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people) almost word for word the same as verse fourteen. This army is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Hanokh (Enoch) as recorded in Jude, verses fourteen and fifteen: “Look! Adonai came with his myriads of holy ones  to execute judgment against everyone, that is, to convict all the godless for their godless deeds which they have done in such a godless way, and for all the harsh words these godless sinners have spoken against him.”  Imagine being on earth at this time and looking up to witness such a sight!

The armies that follow Yeshua have no weapons; in fact, there seems to be only one offensive weapon, and that is a sharp sword, which represents the Word of God (see Hebrews 4:12). One needs just to read the account of creation to understand that when God speaks, things happen. Yeshua will need no human-made weapon to defeat the Anti-Messiah and his army. The Word of God carries unlimited power, whether it is for creation or destruction. The Word of God brings salvation to those who believe and will, just as inevitably, bring judgment to those who refuse to believe. The expression, He will rule them with a staff of iron speaks of Yeshua’s one thousand year Kingdom on earth and that He will be equipped to break man’s rebellious will, and thus, rule over him with all of His power and authority. Add to this the picture of the winepress, a symbol of Yeshua’s extreme wrath. This description contradicts modern man’s notion that God will overlook man’s frailties. Our God will display His wrath and not a single rival will remain to contest His sovereignty.

On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Nothing more needs to be added to clarify this picture.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 19:11-21 [1]

See the explanation for each of the four views in Part 1 of the Rider on the White Horse.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 3.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Rider on the White Horse ~ Part 1

Revelation 19:11-21
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 19:1-10 ~ The Marriage of the Lamb Has Come. In this post, we examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse.  As you read the passage below, you will discover that there is a lot that needs to be rightly divided. Consequently, we will break the entire passage into three parts.  In this post, we will only cover the first three verses.  Even so, you may want to print the PDF version (below) to read this post offline.

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” 14 The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is He who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!” 19 I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was taken captive, and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. ~ Revelation 19:11-21 (CJB)

In Titus 2:13 we are taught “to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Shekhinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.” The present verses describe this eagerly awaited Second Coming.

At this moment, Yochanan sees the heavens open, and Yeshua returns to the earth, riding a white horse, followed by all the armies of heaven also riding white horses. What a glorious sight! This event has been called “the Revelation” for this is the moment when Yeshua reveals Himself to all the world. This is the second time in the book of Revelation that heaven’s door is opened. The first event is when the gates of heaven are opened for the Rapture of the Messianic Community into heaven (4:1). The second event is the Revelation when the gates of heaven open as Yeshua and all the armies of heaven return to earth (v. 11).

The Revelation of the King of Kings (19:11-13)

11 Next I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the One called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that He passes judgment and goes to battle. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many royal crowns. And He had a name written which no one knew but Himself. 13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which He is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.”

This passage contains one of the most graphic pictures of the Second Coming of Yeshua to be found anywhere in Scripture. Merrill C. Tenney describes the Revelation of Yeshua in His Second Coming as following the pattern of a Roman triumphal procession. When a general returned from a successful campaign, he and his legions were granted the right to parade up the Via Sacra, the main street of Rome that led from the Forum to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Mounted on a white horse, the general rode at the head of his troops, followed by the wagonloads of booty that he had taken from the conquered nation, and by the chained captives that were to be executed or sold in the slave markets of the city. The chief prisoners or rebels were remanded to the Mamertine Prison, where they were usually executed, while sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered in the temple.

Even a casual study should make evident the remarkable contrast between this event and the Rapture of the Messianic Community. At the Rapture, Yeshua meets His own in the air, and there is no evidence of immediate judgment upon the earth. By contrast, Yeshua here is coming to the earth with the specific purpose of bringing divine judgment and establishing His righteous rule.

Many Scriptures in both the Tanach and Brit Hadashah anticipate this scene. Zechariah 14:3–4 revealed the event in these words: Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south.

According to Zechariah’s prophecy, when Yeshua returns He will come to the Mount of Olives, the point of His departure on the occasion of His ascension into heaven recorded in Acts 1. His return to the Mount of Olives, however, will be dramatic, as the mountain will split in half in evidence of His power and authority. The Mount of Olives today has two high points, and what seems to be a natural division between them will be transformed into a vast valley stretching toward the east from Jerusalem and extending down to Jericho at the Jordan River.

The Second Coming of Yeshua is likewise described in Matthew 24:27–31:

27 For when the Son of Man does come, it will be like lightning that flashes out of the east and fills the sky to the western horizon. 28 Wherever there’s a dead body, that’s where you find the vultures. 29 “But immediately following the trouble of those times, the sun will grow dark, the moon will stop shining, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. 31 He will send out his angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

As is made clear in these prophecies, the Second Coming of Yeshua will be a glorious event which all the world will behold, both Believers and unbelievers. It is compared to lightning that shines from the east to the west, in other words, illuminating the whole heaven. The Second Coming will be preceded by the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light, stars falling from heaven, and other phenomena not only mentioned in Matthew 24 but vividly revealed in the Revelation. The climax of all these events will be the return of Yeshua Himself in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory and accompanied by the saints. The final revelation of this event is found in Revelation 19.

The dramatic presentation of this remarkable scene is introduced by Yochanan’s statement “I saw heaven opened.” In the vision, he beholds a person who can be no other than the Lord Jesus Yeshua on a white horse. In contrast to the pseudo ruler of the world (Revelation 6:2), Yeshua is presented here as the true ruler. The plea of Isaiah as recorded in 64:1–2 is now fulfilled:

“It would be like fire kindling the brush,  and the fire then makes the water boil.  Then your enemies would know your name; the nations would tremble before you! When you did tremendous things  that we were not expecting,  we wished that you would come down,  so that the mountains would shake at your presence!”

The titles of Faithful and True ascribed to Yeshua are previously given in Revelation 1:5 and 3:7, and were anticipated in the prophecies of Isaiah 11:3–4.

H.A. Ironside points out the significance of the three names given to Yeshua: [1]

“A Name written that no man knew but He Himself” speaks of His essential glory as the Eternal Son, concerning which He declared that “no man knoweth the Son but the Father.”… The second name is “The Word of God.” [The third title is] “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” In these three names we have set forth, first, our Lord’s dignity as the Eternal Son. Second, His incarnation—the Word became flesh. And, lastly, His second advent to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

These attributes are demonstrated in the appearance of Yeshua as described in the following verses. His eyes were like a fiery flame, a term previously used to describe Yeshua in Revelation 1:14 and 2:18. This speaks of His righteous judgment upon sin. His head were many royal crowns is the symbol of sovereignty. He had a name written which no one knew but Himself is as yet unrevealed. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood as if anticipating the bloodshed to come.

The name given to Yeshua in verse 13 is The Word of God (Greek ho logos tou theou). The Word of God, who according to Yochanan 1:1–3 is the Creator, is here also the Judge of man.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 19:11-21 [2]

Since I have elected to break this long passage into three posts, I have debated how to present the four views.  To keep continuity with Mr. Gregg’s summary, I have decided to provide my overview of his recap in its entirety here.  Another good reason to print off the PDF version for future reference.  😊

Historicist Approach:

Historicists understand that the riding forth of Yeshua on the white horse as either the ongoing victories accomplished by the church through the Word of God or else it is Yeshua’s continuing judgment upon His enemies as He conquers the nations at Har-Meggido as described in Revelation 16:16. The robe that had been soaked in blood and He who treads the winepress is an allusion to Isaiah 63.:1-3.

Preterist Approach:

Some Preterists see all references to the coming of Yeshua as being fulfilled in 70 CE; most expect an actual coming of Yeshua in the future ~ much as do those who take other approaches to the interpretation of Revelation.  Even those don’t see the Second Coming of Yeshua in this passage. Instead, they believe it applies to the continuing warfare of the church through the proclamation of the Gospel following the fall of Bavel. They take this position because another Scripture describes Yeshua returning to earth as He ascended ~ on a cloud and this passage describes a spiritual, not a physical conflict.  This battle is waged and won by the Word of God.

Futurist Approach:

For Futurists, there is no question that the rider is Yeshua. They are divided as to who comprises the armies of heaven that accompany Him.  They can be the Kehilah, or the Kehilah plus the saints of former dispensations and the Tribulation saints, or angels, or angels plus the Kehilah.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists concur that the rider is Yeshua and have similar views as the Futurists concerning the composition of the armies of heaven. They look to the Tanakh to explain verse 15.  The symbolism is a reminder of Isiah 11:3-4; Psalm 2:9; and, Isaiah 63:1-6.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse.

Click here for PDF version

 

[1] John F. Walvoord Commentary and Theology Collection – The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Marriage of the Lamb Has Come

Revelation 19:1-10
The End Times

In my last post, we completed Revelation 18 by examining Fornicators Lament; Apostles and Prophets Avenged. In this post, we explore Revelation 19:1-10 ~ The Marriage of the Lamb Has Come.  I’m excited that we have made it this far in our verse-by-verse study of RevelationChapter 19 begins with the Marriage Feast of the Lord and ends with the Second Coming of Yeshua.

“After these things, I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd in heaven, shouting, ‘Halleluyah! The victory, the glory, the power of our God! 2 For His judgments are true and just. He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her whoring. He has taken vengeance on her who has the blood of his servants on her hands.’ 3 And a second time they said, ‘Halleluyah! Her smoke goes up forever and ever!’ 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshipped God, sitting on the throne, and said, ‘Amen! Halleluyah!’ 5 A voice went out from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, small and great!’ 6 Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd, like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying, “Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, has begun his reign! 7 ‘Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give Him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself — 8 fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear.’ (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.) 9 The angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!’ Then he added, ‘These are God’s very words.’ 10 I fell at his feet to worship him; but he said, ‘Don’t do that! I’m only a fellow-servant with you and your brothers who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy.’” ~ Revelation 19:1-10 (CJB)

The Halleluyah Chorus

Before getting to the Marriage Feast (beginning in verse 7) we are treated to the original Halleluyah Chorus in verses 1-6.  The Halleluyah Chorus comes as a breath of fresh air after the depressing activities of the previous chapters. Now there is cause to celebrate, as this passage is an encouragement not to quit, not to give up, to know that whatever befalls the Believer in this life, there is ultimately a victorious pay off for those who remain faithful.

After these things, I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd in heaven, shouting, ‘Halleluyah! The victory, the glory, the power of our God! 2 For His judgments are true and just. He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her whoring. He has taken vengeance on her who has the blood of his servants on her hands.’ 3 And a second time they said, ‘Halleluyah! Her smoke goes up forever and ever!’ 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshipped God, sitting on the throne, and said, ‘Amen! Halleluyah!’ 5 A voice went out from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, small and great!’ 6 Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd, like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying, “Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, has begun his reign!

Though the general reference of a huge crowd in heaven may be to all people in heaven, the allusion seems to be to the martyred dead of the Great Tribulation.

Halleluyah is Hebrew forPraise Yah! (“Praise the Lord!”), rendered in the Greek text as Allelouia, and found in the Bible 22 times in Psalms 104-150 and four times in these six verses. The huge crowd in heaven praises God by declaring Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, has begun his reign. God’s universal rule is a major theme of the Tanakh (Psalms 103:19, 145:13; Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:5-6(6-7), 11:6-9; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 14:9). On the one hand, the Brit Hadashah presents the “Kingdom” or “rulership” of God as a reality present at this moment through trusting in Yeshua HaMessiah (Matt. 5:3, 10; 11:11; 12:28; 25:34; 26:29; Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17; 1Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:13). On the other hand, it also describes the Kingdom as a future promise yet to be fully manifested (Matt. 6:10, 7:21; Luke 22:30, 23:42; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21; 2 Kefa 1:11).

The present passage inaugurates God’s kingly reign, although its establishment requires several stages: first is the wedding feast of the Lamb (vv. 7-9), climaxed by the return of the Messiah (vv. 11-15); then HaSatan must be chained (20:1-3, 7-10), judgment must take place (20:11-15), and only then does Yeshua actually rule (21:3-4, 22:3-5); compare 1Cointhians 15:23-28.

Ray Stedman gives additional light to this passage of Scripture: [1]

You may be surprised to learn that this chapter marks the first appearance of the word Halleluyah—not only in the book of Revelation but in the entire New Testament! There are many Halleluyahs in the Psalms and throughout the Old Testament, but this exhilarating shout of praise does not appear in the New Testament until the last few chapters. But at this point in Revelation, the shouts of Halleluyah become thunderous, resounding, even deafening. The final and utter destruction of Mystery Babylon precipitates a Halleluyah Chorus in heaven that brings the entire heavenly host to its feet in a standing ovation of praise. Gone is the adulterous institution that wrapped up God’s truth in a tissue of demonic lies, that set deadly snares for unwary believers, that introduced error and abomination into the world in the name of God. Verse 3 confirms that the destruction of Babylon is not merely an earthly catastrophe of an evil society of human beings. “The smoke from her goes up forever and ever,” a statement which demonstrates that it is not merely an event in time that we are witnessing, but an event in eternity, in the realm of “forever and ever.”

Keep in mind what they have just witnessed! The most corrupt and evil system that ever invaded this planet, always seeking to control humanity through politics and religion has been destroyed. HaSatan’s kingdom has come to an end making room for the kingdom of Yeshua. The forthcoming marriage festival is cause for thanksgiving and celebration. The Bridegroom and His bride enjoy a private marriage ceremony in Heaven which is followed by a public party.

The Marriage Feast of the Lamb

Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give Him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself — 8 fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear.’ (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.) 9 The angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!’ Then he added, ‘These are God’s very words.’”

There are at least a couple of questions that always come up when discussing this event. One needs to realize that there are two events taking place; first, there is the wedding and then begins the wedding feast. The first question has to do with the Bridegroom Himself. The Scriptures point to the fact that the person of Yeshua is the Bridegroom. In Matthew 9:15, Yeshua is talking about Himself as the Bridegroom. In Matthew 22:1-3, Yeshua speaks a parable; however, it is a reference to Himself and a marriage that will one day take place. In Matthew 25:1-10, Yeshua speaks of the ten virgins, but the close study reveals He is the Bridegroom expressed of in verses five, six and ten.

The second question that arises has to do with the identity of the Bride. The Kehillah is the Bride of Yeshua. This includes all who have been saved, from the establishment of the Kehilah until the Rapture and the Tribulation saints. Sha’ul in writing to the saints at Corinth says For I am jealous for you with God’s kind of jealousy; since I promised to present you as a pure virgin in marriage to your one husband, the Messiah. 2 Corinthians 11:2.

When Yochanan sees this glorious celebration, note his reaction! I fell at his feet to worship him; but he said, ‘Don’t do that! I’m only a fellow-servant with you and your brothers who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy.’ Some groups take the phrase, Spirit of prophecy, to mean there will be future revelations. Such an interpretation is sought only to support those who want to convince themselves that they are some prophet! Nothing could be more wrong. The very nature or purpose of prophecy is to testify of Yeshua. Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy, and all prophecy points only to Yeshua. Believers who have in them is the Spirit of prophecy that is, the Ruach HaKodesh, may speak forth God’s truth whenever they live a godly, Messianic life and communicate the Besorah to others.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 19:1-10 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe that with the fall of the papal system, the church is prepared to join Yeshua in further conquests of the nations through the Gospel message and celebrate His triumphal reign.  The marriage of the Lamb is variously understood, depending on the millennial leanings of the scholars.  Matthew Henry has an interesting paraphrase to For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecyHe writes:

“I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of Jesus; I also have the testimony of Jesus, but you as an apostle has the Spirit of prophecy.”

Preterist Approach:

Preterists view this passage as parallel to the last five verses of Chapter 11.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists see this first reference to the marriage of the Lamb as figurative of the ultimate union of Yeshua with His people ~ the saints of past and future ages.  But like the Historicists, they are divided by their dispensational leanings.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists see in this passage an excellent portrayal of the Jewish marriage customs of the apostolic era.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 19:11-21 ~ The Rider on the White Horse.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

Fornicators Lament; Apostles and Prophets Avenged

Revelation 18:9-24
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 18:4-8 ~ Come Out of Her. In this post, we continue in Revelation 18 to examine Fornicators Lament; Apostles and Prophets Avenged in verses 9-24.

“The kings of the earth who went whoring with her and shared her luxury will sob and wail over her when they see the smoke as she burns. 10 Standing at a distance, for fear of her torment, they will say, ‘Oh no! The great city! Bavel, the mighty city! In a single hour your judgment has come!’11 The world’s businessmen weep and mourn over her, because no one is buying their merchandise any more — 12 stocks of gold and silver, gems and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, all rare woods, all ivory goods, all kinds of things made of scented wood, brass, iron and marble; 13 cinnamon, cardamom, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, flour, grain, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots — and bodies — and people’s souls. 14 The fruits you lusted for with all your heart have gone! All the luxury and flashiness have been destroyed, never to return! 15 The sellers of these things, who got rich from her, will stand at a distance, for fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 and saying, ‘Oh no! The great city used to wear fine linen, purple and scarlet! She glittered with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 Such great wealth — in a single hour, ruined!’ All the ship masters, passengers, sailors and everyone making his living from the sea stood at a distance 18 and cried out when they saw the smoke as she burned, ‘What city was like the great city?’ 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, saying, ‘Oh no! The great city! The abundance of her wealth made all the ship owners rich! In a single hour she is ruined!’ 20 Rejoice over her, heaven! Rejoice, people of God, emissaries and prophets! For in judging her, God has vindicated you. 21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a great millstone, and hurled it into the sea, saying, ‘With violence like this will the great city Bavel be hurled down, never to be found again! 22 The sound of harpists and musicians, flute-players and trumpeters will never again be heard in you. No worker of any trade will ever again be found in you, the sound of a mill will never again be heard in you, 23 the light of a lamp will never again shine in you, the voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. For your businessmen were the most powerful on earth, all the nations were deceived by your magic spell. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s people, indeed, of all who have ever been slaughtered on earth!’”  ~ Revelation 18:9-24 (CJB)

The Results of Bavel’s Fall

The kings of the earth who went whoring with her and shared her luxury will sob and wail over her when they see the smoke as she burns. 10 Standing at a distance, for fear of her torment, they will say, ‘Oh no! The great city! Bavel, the mighty city! In a single hour your judgment has come! This is the first of three groups that bewail the destruction of Bavel, and they are referred to as the kings of the earth. They represent the political world, and their power comes from the Beast. With the world under global attack, they have to be wondering who will be the next ruling king. Their interest at this point is strictly self-serving. Finis Dake writes about these verses: [1]

What a contrast to the results and destruction of the Bavel in Rev. 17:16-17! Such language is too literal for me to mistake the reference as being anything else than to a material city, for the inhabitants of it, as well as others, will lament over its destruction. The kings are to be the instruments of the destruction of Mystical Bavel and vent their wrath on her freely. If there were no other proof that the two Bavels will be different, this one would be sufficient. These kings will commit fornication and live in luxury with literal Bavel right up to the time of her destruction, while, as seen in the other chapter, they will tire of Mystical Bavel before her destruction and rejoice over her fall. This certainly is a literal city for its burning is an object of sight by the whole world in that vicinity, for they “see” her burning, Revelation 18:9-19. People are to stand afar “off.”

The world’s businessmen weep and mourn over her, because no one is buying their merchandise any more — 12 stocks of gold and silver, gems and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, all rare woods, all ivory goods, all kinds of things made of scented wood, brass, iron and marble; 13 cinnamon, cardamom, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, flour, grain, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots — and bodies — and people’s souls. 14 The fruits you lusted for with all your heart have gone! All the luxury and flashiness have been destroyed, never to return! 15 The sellers of these things, who got rich from her, will stand at a distance, for fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 and saying, ‘Oh no! The great city used to wear fine linen, purple and scarlet! She glittered with gold, precious stones, and pearls! 17 Such great wealth — in a single hour, ruined!’

The second group that bewails the destruction of Bavel are those businessmen who have been made wealthy by their international trade. In this passage is a list of thirty different kinds of merchandise that can be sold or bought in Bavel. The most disturbing thing in this long list of merchandise has to be and bodies — and people’s souls. Even in the day in which we live the value of a human life continues to depreciate. Slave trade is practiced in many parts of our third world countries today, so one can only imagine what it will be like in the final days of the Great Tribulation.

All the ship masters, passengers, sailors and everyone making his living from the sea stood at a distance 18 and cried out when they saw the smoke as she burned, ‘What city was like the great city?’ 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, saying, ‘Oh no! The great city! The abundance of her wealth made all the ship owners rich! In a single hour, she is ruined!’  The third group that bewails the destruction of Bavel are the ship masters, captains, and sailors. All three of these groups (the kings, the businessman, and the ship masters) are all upset, not over the destruction of Bavel, but because of the effect, it will have on their economic lives. Every last one of them is self-serving in his attitude, which is a form of pride.

The Destruction of Political Bavel

Rejoice over her, heaven! Rejoice, people of God, emissaries, and prophets! For in judging her, God has vindicated you. This is the first time in Revelation the admonition to celebrate or to rejoice is given. The cause for this celebration is the destruction of Bavel and God’s judgment upon this entire planet (Revelation 16:17-21). Warren Wiersbe adds these words: [2]

In contrast to the lament of the kings and merchants is the rejoicing of heaven’s inhabitants that Bavel has fallen. How important it is that God’s people look at events from God’s point of view. In fact, we are commanded to rejoice at the overthrow of Bavel, because in this judgment God will vindicate His servants who were martyred (see Revelation 6:9-11).

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a great millstone, and hurled it into the sea, saying, ‘With violence like this will the great city Bavel be hurled down, never to be found again! 22 The sound of harpists and musicians, flute-players and trumpeters will never again be heard in you. No worker of any trade will ever again be found in you, the sound of a mill will never again be heard in you, 23 the light of a lamp will never again shine in you, the voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. For your businessmen were the most powerful on earth, all the nations were deceived by your magic spell. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s people, indeed, of all who have ever been slaughtered on earth!

David Stern comments on the size of a great millstone: [3]

The name Gat-Sh’manim (Gethsemane) means “oil press,” that is, a stone mill for grinding olives into pulp for their oil. Until quite recently the Arabs in the villages here in Israel used such presses for the same purpose, and many of the millstones are still around. They are circular with a hole in the center about 9 inches square; diameter averages about five feet, thickness a foot and weight well over a ton.

Take the time to read Jeremiah 51:61-64 and note the similarities between that passage and this one. These verses add more evidence to the belief that the city of Bavel will be rebuilt. This prophecy has never been fulfilled and for it to be filled Bavel must first be re-built! Civilization had its beginning in Shinar after the flood, and from there came a westward migration. Now in the closing days of this dispensation things are moving back toward the east once again. Bavel is HaSatan’s capital, just as Jerusalem is God’s capital. Thus, it seems fitting that Satan’s final hour will be back in his hometown. Jerry Falwell comments on this passage:[4]

A mighty angel casts a great millstone into the sea, representing the final fall of Bavel. A dead silence arises from the now-destroyed city. No more merriment, no more wedding celebrations, for the great harlot Bavel is at last destroyed forever. Joyless, dark, and silent, Bavel stands out as a monument to the utmost vengeance of God. Wickedness had sat enthroned in the midst of that professedly bearing the Name of Christ; but at last, when she had filled to the full her cup of iniquity, God rises in His fierce anger, His indignation burns, and Bavel falls to rise no more. Her destruction is irremediable.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 18:9-24 [5]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe much of the imagery in this passage comes from passages in Ezekiel 27 and 28 referring to the fall of the city of Tyre. Papal Rome is likened to Tyre concerning pride, luxury, and economic strength. The burning of the city is taken as the downfall of the papal power. The imagery of casting a millstone is reminiscent of Jeremiah 51:63-64.

Preterist Approach:

For Preterists, the events of this passage fit with the assumption that Bavel is either Rome or Jerusalem.

Futurist Approach:

Several Futurists believe that ancient Bavel in modern Iraq will be rebuilt in the End Times, ala Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists seem to align with the Historicists position above.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 19:1-10 ~ The Marriage of the Lamb Has Come.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.