Part 9. The final victory (19:1—20:15)
9.1. Hymn of vindication (19:1-5)
9.2. Marriage of the Lamb announced (19:6-10)
9.3. The Warrior-Messiah appears (19:11-16)
9.4. Antichrist and allies destroyed (19:17-21)
† PICTURE: John heard a large multitude praising God for His judgment. The wedding of the Lamb is announced. Then Christ appears on a white horse commanding God’s army against the army of antichrist. There was no actual combat as Christ quickly destroyed the evil army with His power. The beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the fiery lake.
19:1 After the dark funeral song of the fall of Babylon, John witnesses a completely different scene in heaven, a joyful celebration of God’s judgment and the announcement of the coming marriage of the Lamb. In ch.18, there were 3 laments by 3 groups of people; here, there are 3 praises to God:  by the heavenly multitude (vv.1-3),  24 elders and 4 living creatures (v.4),  a voice from the throne invites all God’s servants to join the praise to God (v.5).
The great multitude in heaven praises God for judging the prostitute and avenging the blood of the martyrs. This group is probably the triumphant church.
The word “Hallelujah” occurs only 4 times in the NT, all in this chapter (vv.1,3,4,6). It is derived from 2 Hebrew words (halal and Jah), and means “Praise Yahweh.” It is commonly translated “Praise the Lord”. The Hebrew form of the word introduces many Psalms (including 106,111—113,117,135,146—150). The praise is for God’s salvation (whole plan of redemption), glory (majesty), and power (might).
19:2 God’s judgments are described as true (valid) and just (fair). Again, the main sins of the great prostitute are recounted:  her unholy alliances with the entire world, and  her murder of God’s servants. They bring God’s judgment and condemnation. How horrible it is to be condemned by God!
19:3 God is praised again because the destruction of the wicked city is absolutely final. The picture of the everlasting smoke should not be taken too literally.
19:4 The 24 elders and the 4 living creatures worshipped God for His righteous judgment. They provide the refrain for the praise by the church.
19:5 The voice came from the throne is not the voice of God because it refers to God as a third person. It is probably one of the heavenly being who surround the throne in v.4. The call is for every servant of God to praise Him. “Both small and great” possibly means people of all ages or people of every stage of spiritual maturity. Some believe that vv.1-4 are praises from those in heaven while this verse is a call for those who are on earth. However, it is possible that no Christians are now left on earth. If so, then it is possible that vv.1-3 are praises by the church and v.4 is a refrain by the angels, and v.5 includes everyone.
Some people question why there is joy when the world system is destroyed. The joy is because God’s justice is finally fulfilled.
19:6 John hears the sound of a great multitude of people. It is like the roar of a mighty cataract, and like a great peal of thunder. This is an announcement that God has at last established His universal reign on earth. The kingdom of God becomes a visible reality. The de jure rule (in law) of Christ becomes de facto rule (in fact). The aorist tense means that God “has taken up His reign.” This will be a once-for-all act that lasts to eternity. The previous 3 “Hallelujahs” pointed back to the destruction of Babylon in ch.18. This 4th Hallelujah points forward to the coming wedding of the Lamb.
19:7 The 2 verbs “rejoice and be glad” have similar meaning and are used for emphasis of the joy. The only place in the NT where these 2 verbs are used together is Mt 5:12, where the cause for rejoicing is given as the greatness of the heavenly reward awaiting those who were persecuted for the cause of Christ. Here the rejoicing is for the great wedding feast in which the Lamb and His bride (the church) celebrate their union. This is also a reward waiting for those had been persecuted on earth. The wedding is announced here but will actually take place in ch.21.
In both the OT and the NT, the relationship between God and His people has been portrayed as a marriage (Hos 2:19; Isa 54:5-7; Eph 5:32). In biblical times, the wedding began with a procession to the bride’s house, which was followed by a return to the house of the groom for the marriage feast. Here, the church is described like a bride being made herself ready, waiting for the arrival of the groom (Christ).
19:8 In contrast to the prostitute who was portrayed as wearing fine linen of purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls (17:4), the bride is attired also in fine linen, but bright and clean. While purple and scarlet are symbols of luxury, the brightness of the linen is a symbol of the purity of the church.
19:9 The angel is probably the interpreting angel of ch.17. The wedding banquet is variously described in:  Isa 25:6-8 where the Lord prepares on Mt. Zion a great banquet, removes the reproach of His people, and swallows up death forever.  Lk 13:29 where Jesus speaks of those who come from all directions to the feast in the kingdom of God.  Mt 26:29 where Jesus foretold a day when He will drink with His disciples in the kingdom of God. Note that the church is pictured both as the bride and the guests who are invited to the wedding. The bride is a representation of the church as a whole while the guests are individual believers.
This 4th of the 7 blessings in Revealation is also authenticated as the true words of God.
19:10 John had shown some reverence to the angel in 7:14. Here, overwhelmed by what he had seen or heard, he falls down before the angel and worshipped him. But he is sharply rebuked with the command, “Don’t do it!” The reason is that both Christians and angels are fellow servants of the same Lord. No matter how mighty angels are or how magnificent they appear to be, they must not be the objects of our worship. Only God is worthy of worship.
The reason given by the angel for worshipping God alone is that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The testimony can either be:  the witness that was borne by Jesus or  the witness borne to Jesus. If the first meaning is used, then Jesus, by His life and death, has demonstrated to His followers how to be a faithful witness to the message revealed by God. This testimony is the essence of prophetic proclamation. The spirit of prophecy is God the Holy Spirit, the one who inspired all prophecy. For this reason, people are to worship God, the giver of revelation, and not the angel, who is merely the interpreter of visions. If the second meaning is used, then the proclamation of the angel is a testimony to Jesus and this testimony comes from the spirit of prophecy, again referring to God. Both interpretations arrive at the same conclusion: only God can be worshipped.
19:11 John’s next vision is the appearance of the warrior-Messiah who appears on a white horse ready to wage war. In 2Th 1:7-8, Paul teaches that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire to inflict vengeance upon the wicked.
This passage contains 4 titles given to Christ: “Faithful and True” (v.11), a secret name (v.12), “The Word of God” (v.13), “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (v.14). In 3:14, Christ was called the faithful and true witness. In Hebrew thought, to be true is to be reliable as God of truth in Jer 10:10 is the God who can be trusted to keep His covenant (in contrast to Greek thought which explains truth as correspondence to reality). Therefore the two words are practically synonymous.
19:12 Christ’s blazing eyes reflect His eagerness to carry out His mission. It can also mean that nothing can be hidden from the penetrating gaze of the Messiah. Many crowns are on His head, indicating unlimited sovereignty. This is in contrast to the 7 crowns of the dragon (12:3) and 10 crowns of the beast out of the sea (13:1).
The Rider bears a name that only He knows. Some believe this secret name is a reference to the sacred tetragrammaton, YHWH, a name too holy to pronounce. Some take it as “the name that is above every name” (that is, “the Lord” in Php 2:9-11). Some simply believe that it is a name which is veiled and left unknown from all created beings. It expresses the mystery of His person as God can never be fully known.
19:13 Christ’s robe dipped in blood symbolizes His coming victory as the blood is the blood of the enemy shed in conflict. In Isa 63:1-6, the prophet asked, “Why are your garments red, like those of one treading in the winepress?” God replied, “I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments.” Others believe that it is His own blood symbolizing His death, that is, the blood that redeems and condemns.
The name “The Word of God” is corresponding to Jn 1:1. The Word of God is God’s thought uttered so that men can understand it. Christ came to this world so that man can see and know God. Here, however, the Word of God can refer to God’s authoritative word of judgment.
19:14 The Messiah commands a heavenly army clothed in fine linen and mounted on white horses. Normally, a heavenly army will be composed of angels like those in 12:7. However, the army here appears the same as the saints who wear fine linen, white and clean. Also, in the prophecy in 17:14, the army that follows the Lamb is described as “called, chosen and faithful” so that the saints are implicated. Apparently, the army does not take part in the battle as the army of the antichrist is destroyed by the sword of the Messiah (vv.15,21). The Messiah’s army accompany Him simply to witness His exercise of authority in judgment.
19:15 The activity of the Messiah is portrayed by 3 figures:
 He strikes down the nations with a sharp sword that comes out of His mouth. In 2Th 2:8, the Lord Jesus is to slay the lawless one (antichrist) with “the breath of His mouth”. It is possible that the enemies of God are destroyed simply by a command from the Messiah’s mouth. The command alone is then the sword (Heb 4:12).
 He rules the nations with an iron scepter. To rule with an iron scepter means to destroy rather than to govern in a stern fashion as in Ps 2:9.
 He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. This describes destruction caused by God’s wrath and God’s power. This is similar to the vision in 14:20 and may in fact refer to the same event.
19:16 The name “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” is inscribed on His garment which falls across His thigh (a most prominent place for one mounted on a horse). The name emphasizes His universal sovereignty. It occurs 4 other times in the Bible (Dt 10:17; Dan 2:47; 1Ti 6:15; Rev 17:14).
19:17 The following passage describes the destruction of the antichrist and his allies. In ch.18, the destruction of Babylon is the end of the socio-political forces of the world. Now, the root of the evil, the underlying spiritual forces, will be destroyed.
The angel’s call for the birds to feed on the flesh of the fallen is a fulfilment of the prophecy in Eze 39:17-20. The supper of God presents a grim contrast to the wedding feast of the Lamb. It is the supper of God in the sense that God will provide it.
19:18 The fallen will be from all ranks of the army. Their bodies will lie on the field of battle to be devoured by birds of prey.
19:19 John now sees the beast and his armies gathered against the Messiah. After the kings of the whole world joined in 16:16, the battle of Armageddon has finally arrived.
19:20 While the preparation of the warfare is described, there is no description of the actual warfare, not even a brief description. God’s enemies are simply defeated with God’s power (Dan 8:25). In Dan 2:34-35, the 10 kings are said to be destroyed by “a rock was cut out, but not by human hands.”
The beast and the false prophet, leaders of the satanic army, are captured and thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur. The beast is the personification of secular power in its opposition to the church. The false prophet represents the role of false religion in persuading people to worship the antichrist. He is further described as the deceiver who performed miraculous signs and who deluded people to receive the mark of the beast and worship the antichrist.
The fiery lake of burning sulphur is the place of final torment. It is called Gehenna in Mt 5:22 and Mk 9:43; it is a place of fire and the abode of the wicked dead. In real life, the name Gehenna is an abbreviation for “valley of the son of Hinnom.” It was the name given to the valley lying to the south and west of Jerusalem (the modern Wadi er Rababi). As the site of a cultic shrine where human sacrifices were offered (2Ki 16:3; 23:10; Jer 7:31), it acquired an unholy reputation. Because of prophetic denunciation of this place of terrible wickedness (Jer 7:32; 19:6), it came to be equated with the hell of final judgment.
Sulphur is a yellow powder that burns readily in air. It is found in a natural state in volcanic areas such as the valley of the Dead Sea (Gen 19:24; Eze 38:22). A lake of burning sulphur would not only be intensely hot, but with a stinking smell as well. It is an appropriate place for all that is sinful and wicked in the world. After the antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into it, others will join them later, including the devil (20:10), Death and Hades (20:14), and all evil people (21:8).
19:21 The sword is the proclamation of divine retribution that slays all who have join the army of the antichrist. The supper of God is ready, and the vultures gorge themselves on the flesh of the wicked. God’s enemies are totally destroyed. There is only one left, Satan, whom God will deal with next.
† In 19:8, the bride of Christ, the church, is described as wearing bright fine linen which is explained to be the righteous acts of the saints. While salvation is not based on works but purely on faith, those who believe are expected to live and act in righteousness worthy of their salvation. These are acts that are right in the eyes of God, that is, obedience to God’s Word. We have to ask ourselves: Am I obedient to God’s Word? Am I a worthy participant in the wedding of the Lamb?