Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Final Things #4: The Millennial Kingdom

Revelation 20:4-6

This is one of the most debated subjects and passages of Revelation. This debate falls into three theological/eschatological views:

·         Amillennialist.[1] This view says there will be no future 1000-year reign; they believe we are under the millennium now—a realized millennialism. Amillennialist are divided in two camps. First, those who uphold the Augustinian view that all the promises of the kingdom is the church and the present age (e.g. Berkhof). The passage is symbolic and not literal. Second, view this as a picture not of a time-period but a state of saints in heaven (e.g. Warfield, Sam Storms). Both views require spiritualization of Revelation 20.

·         Postmillennialist.[2] This view holds that Christ will return after the 1000-year period, which may be literal or indicates a long period of time. This period will be marked by spiritual renewal and peace. However, this view has lost favor in the twentieth century.

·         Premillennialist.[3] This holds that Christ will return after the Tribulation and before the 1000-year reign. It lets the customary ordinary language of the passage speak for itself. It holds to the literal 1000-year reign of Christ here on earth. The author holds this view.

Revelation 20 continues the motif of Christ as Victor/Messiah at His second coming. “Then I saw thrones,” designate another stage or event being revealed. This paragraph clearly identifies that this event happens during the 1000-year[4] captivity of Satan. The thousand years are associated with two main events: the captivity of Satan (20:2), and the reign of Christ (4). Pentecost observes:

It is evident that there can and will be no earthly theocratic kingdom apart from the personal manifested presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This whole age depends upon His return to the earth as promised. All that exists in the millennium has its origin in the King who is revealed.[5]

This rule is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise given to Mary (Luke 1:32-33), as well as the answer to what is commonly called the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:10). Its features will include:

·         A glorious government (Isa. 9:6; 11:4; Psa. 2:9; 45:4; 72:4).

·         A glorious inheritance of the promised land to Israel (Gen. 17:8; Dan 11:16, 41; 8:9).

·         A glorious righteousness throughout the kingdom (Mal. 4:2; Isa. 26:2; Psa. 96:10).

·         A glorious kingdom in which Christ rules (Psa. 72; Isa. 9:7; 11:10; Zech. 3:10).

This all happens in this 1000-year period, while Satan is bound.

In Revelation 20:4-6 the following events will take place during this time:


Various views are taken as to who sits upon the thrones:
·         A heavenly tribunal made up of the 24 elders (Rev. 4:4, 11:16). They are said to reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10).[6]
·         Some view these as the 144,000.[7] These 144,000 are sealed, thus protected from death during this period.
·         The martyrs who now are vindicated (Rev.6:9-11; 16:6; 18:20, 24; 19:2). This would include the Twelve (all who were martyred, save one, John). See Luke 22:28-30. Bullinger sees the throne as Christ on the Davidic Throne, along with the twelve thrones of the Apostles.[8]
·         The saints of all time (Daniel 7:18; Luke 22:30; 1 Cor. 6:2-3).  This seems to be the popular view.

There is no easy or sure identification that can be made. In light of this, Mounce says that silence about the occupants of the thrones, it may be wise not to go beyond a heavenly court (Dan 7:26).[9] If we had only this verse in the Bible about who is in the kingdom maybe speculation would be unwarranted. However, there are a number of texts that cannot be overlooked. The major ones are:

·         Daniel 7:18. It plainly declares that the saints of God will receive the kingdom. This is somewhat a generic statement. However, it does state that saints will be part of the kingdom. This passage is best understood as a reference to Old Testament saints of Israel.[10]

·         Matthew 19:28. This is addressed especially to the Twelve, who will sit on twelve thrones in the kingdom (regeneration). Their responsibility will be to judge Israel.

·         1 Corinthians 6:2-3. This is addressed to the church the body of Christ. It clearly teaches we are to be judges of the world and angels. Our judgment of the world should not be downplayed. One of the responsibilities of the body of Christ is to judge the world (not just angels, which some tend to overemphasize). Paul does not identify when this will happen. Some feel that this takes place in heaven, not on earth and is not the same as the judgment of Revelation 20.[11]

·         Revelation 2:26-26; 3:21; 5:10 These verses indicate it is the Tribulation saints. Revelation 20:4 speaks of the martyrs who were killed because they stood faithful to the Lord during this time. Some feel this is a separate group from the enthroned saints.[12] Contextually we should not go beyond what the text says.

However, it must be pointed out nowhere in the immediate context those who sit on these thrones are identified. There are a number of possibilities and opinions, but there is no certainty that can be gleaned from this text. No wonder it has been said that the passage is complicated by a lack of specificity.[13]

What is clear is that judgment “was given to them” (20:4). This phrase brings out two points:

  • God is the origin of the action of giving, they are only the receivers of the action.
  • The authorization is not ceremonial, but real judicial action.
What can be gleaned from the text is that it is a judgement that takes place at the end of the Tribulation.


There are four resurrections recorded in the New Testament:

  • Resurrection of Christ from the tomb (Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-9).
  • The Rapture which includes a resurrection of the saints of the church, the body of Christ (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-57). This takes place before the tribulation.
  • The first resurrection (Rev. 20:4). Takes place at the end of the tribulation. This of necessity includes the Old Testament and tribulational saints and martyrs. Walvoord observes, “The first resurrection therefore becomes the resurrection of all the righteous in contrast to the final resurrection which is the resurrection of the wicked.”[14]
  • The second resurrection (Rev. 20:5). Takes place after the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth.
All of these resurrections are physical, not spiritual or symbolic resurrections. There are four reasons this is true of the first resurrection of Revelation:[15]

  • The immediate context demands it.
  • The context of the book requires it.
  • The term itself is used mostly of physical resurrection, but not exclusively. Revelation 20:4 confirms it is physical, for the dead come to life and rule with Christ in the earthly kingdom. They are never called spirits, but spoken of as saints.
  • This view of literal resurrection goes back to the earliest interpreters, and the New Testament itself. In the New Testament salvation is not full until their bodies are resurrected and their souls and bodies are united (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52-54).
The stated purpose of the first resurrection is that the Old Testament saints and the martyrs are to “reign with Christ for a thousand years.” This thousand-year period is a reign on earth (Rev. 5:10; 20:9). Peter informs us that at this point, they “will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Those resurrected share in the messianic kingdom—the 1000-year rule of Christ. “The millennial form of the kingdom of God is not fulfilled by the eternal state, nor a present rule of God in the hearts of men.”[16]

[1]  Amillennialist include: Henry Swete; Benjamin Warfield, William Hendriksen; R.C.H. Lenski; Louis Berkhof, Leon Morris; G.K. Beale; and Philip Edgcumbe Hughes.
[2] Postmillennialist include: Augustine; Loraine Boettner; Albert Barnes; Charles Hodge; A.H. Strong; David Chilton, and John Jefferson Davis.
[3] Premillennialist include: Irenaeus; R.H. Charles; John F. Walvoord; Alva J. McClain; G.B. Caird; F.F. Bruce; David E. Aune; Merrill C Tenney; C.R. Stam, J. Dwight Pentecost; and Robert H. Mounce.
[4] The 1000-years are mentioned five times in the first 6 verses of Revelation 20. e
[5]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1969], 478.
[6] John F. Walvoord, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1966], 296. Tony Garland, A TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, Volume 2, [www.spirit&truth. Org], 113.
[7]  William Root, COMMENTS ON COMING THINGS: A Dispensational Look at the Book of Revelation, [Grand Rapids, Published by author, 1972], 133. 
[8]  E.W. Bullinger, THE APOCALYPSE, [London, Bagster & Sons, 1972 reprint], 614. There is some confusion by Bullinger because he also included the seven angelic assessors (Matt. 25:31).
[9]  Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: THE BOOK OF REVELATION Revised, [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1998], 365.
[10]  Harry Bultema, COMMENTARY ON DANIEL, [Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1988], 227. Phillip Newell, DANIEL, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1962], 108.
[11]  C.R. Stam, 1 CORINTHIANS, [Chicago, Berean Bible Society, 1988], 114.
[12]  David J. Macleod, “The Fourth ‘Last Things:’ The Millennial Kingdom of Christ,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, January-March 2000, 54-55.
[13] John F. Walvoord, REVELATION, 296.
[14]  John F. Walvoord, THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1959], 279.
[15] David J. MacLeod, “The Millennial Kingdom of Christ,” 58-59.
[16] John F. Walvoord, MILLENIAL KINGDOM, 297.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review of Allen work on Leviticus


The book of Leviticus is considered one of the most boring books of the Bible, as well as one of the most neglected books of the Bible by readers and preachers. Allen is a master of bringing out excellent points for exposition and application, underwritten by the theology of the book. He does a great job of bridging the gap between dryness and significance of the text on a practical level. Showing connections with the ministry of Christ, without becoming fanciful.  

The introduction is one of the highlights of the book. The book centers upon Holiness. He clearly upholds the holiness of God, eternal, gracious and personal. God’s holiness is transformed into the living of the people of God. He shows the enabling grace the holy things given to Israel were gifts of expiation and communion. Yet this book is not a devotional commentary, nor is it a detailed exegetical commentary; it falls somewhere in between. Allen confronts scholarly views of this book. He also reminds us that Leviticus is part of the Law. It centers upon theology, an necessary factor in understanding the book. The theology of Leviticus form useful message on worship, sanctification, and obedience.

His study of the book is divided into the five points:

1.      Laws of the Sacrifices (Lev. 1-7)

2.      Laws of the Priesthood (Lev. 8-10)

3.      Laws of Purification (Lev. 11-16)

4.      Instructions for Holiness (Lev. 17-26)

5.      Redemptive of Vows (Lev. 27)

 The religious instruction contained in Leviticus presents the entire religious system of Israel. It is the priest guidebook. However, the author presents the theological foundational truths found throughout the Bible and the work of Christ. Leviticus presents the reality of God as the Holy one. The laws of the Sacrifices are for the purpose of access, acceptance, dedication, peace, purified, in short reconciliation. All pictured the work of Jesus Christ. The laws of the priesthood centers upon ministry. The laws of purification center upon to protect from contamination. The instructions for Holiness deal with sanctification and fellowship. Vows of redemption, especially chapter 50 deals with exposition and the reflection of God’s faithfulness, and our promise to be faithful as well.

Allen fulfills his purpose of providing teaching to aid in learning about the book and to use it in Christian exposition. If you can only afford one book on Leviticus this is the one to get. It is very helpful, reader friendly, and heighten ones understandable of Leviticus. It should be every Pastor’s study.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Last Things #3: Satan Bound


Pastor Jim Gray

At the great war the ambassadors of Satan were captured and their armies were destroyed (Rev 19:17-21). They were thrown into the lake of fire to await their leader, Satan himself. Chapter 20 speaks to the capture and imprisonment of Satan.

Satan is said to be the supreme example of good gone wrong.[1] He was created good in the highest rank of angelic beings (Ezek. 28:12, 15). Yet, he decided to overthrow God and take his place (Isa. 14:12-14). He took with him part of the heavenly host; these rebels became like him. The, like he, embody evil. Satan is called the evil one (1 John 5:19), a murderer (John 5:19), a roaring lion which devours (1 Pet 5:8), the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10); the fathyer of lies (John 8:44). God pronounced judgment upon him from his fall (Isa. 14:15). What he intends and what he achieves are two different things. Instead of the apex of heaven, he will be assigned to eternal torment.

Revelation 20:1-3 begins the first stage of his judgment. Newell observes that “This imprisonment of the great enemy is the closing scene connected with the Day of Wrath; and, we may say, the opening scene of the coming age—the Millennium.”[2]

The Instrument: An Angel—20:1

The text clearly indicates that “an angel coming down from heaven,” is God’s divine agent for this task.  Angels are a common agents of God in the book of Revelation (cf. 10:2; 18:1).  Their task is judgment. The angel’s two main functions are loosing and binding; opening and closing. This angel has two tools in his hands:

·         “The key to the abyss.” This is not the first time that an angel is used in reference to the abyss. In Rev.9:1 the angel is given a key to release the demons of the bottomless pit. The Greek word in both references is abussos, a compound word meaning an immeasurable depth, bottomless, the underworld, the abyss of Sheol, commonly translated bottomless pit or abyss. In the Old Testament, it is Toperth, the place of burning (Isa.  30:33; Jer. 7:31).[3] Here it is associated with the place of demons (as in Luke 8:30-31), however, Paul says it is the place of the dead (Rom. 10:7). The question becomes who could the demons be release without releasing the dead? It seems to me the natural answer is that there are compartments within the abyss for different classes of beings. The abyss is unlocked in 9:1 for the demons to be released; in 20:3 it is shut and sealed.

·         And a great chain in his hand.” If this is a literal chain is debated. It most likely figurative, describing the power and authority to retain Satan.  Spiritual beings cannot be restrained by physical means or instruments.  

The Incarceration of Satan—20:2-3a

This is the climax of the event. It involves the following:

  • The Arrest— “he was laid hold of.” The word laid hold of (ekpathsen) is precisely the same word used of the arrest of Jesus (Matt. 26:50). It literally means to exercise power over; thus, to lay hold of, subdue, apprehend, or seize. The angel arrests Satan.
  • The aliases. Satan is known by a number of names: the dragon, the serpent of old, the devil, and Satan. These are the four names used of him in the book of Revelation. John brings these together so there can be no confusion of identity, and that they all refer to the same person.
  • His approved sentence— “bound him for a thousand years. This sentence is not eternal, it is for a thousand years. This indicates there is more to come from Satan. His final destination will come (cf. 20:10). It must be noted that some view his imprisonment as happening today. That Satan is bound, an event that happens today and carries through until the second coming of Christ.[4] I reject this view. There is no evidence that Satan is bound in this age of the church. His activity on earth today is clearly seen in Scripture. [1] Blinds the minds of those on earth (2 Cor. 4:3-4). [2] He destroys lives today (1 Peter 5:8). [3] He deceives the nations (Rev. 12:9). [5] He is still the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:6). His being bound in this text is to put a stop to such activities by him. The millennial age is a time when divine righteousness is demonstrated (Isa. 11:5; 32:1; Jer. 23:6; Dan. 9:24).  
  • His assignment— “he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him” (20:3a). Satan’s non-activity in the world is reinforced by the security of his judgment. He is in the abyss, which is shut and sealed. He is securely put away.

His inactivity in the world—20:3b

Now John states the reason for Satan being bound— “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were competed.” MacLeod observes “Satan’s imprisonment during the thousand years is not so much punitive as it is precautionary. It is a precaution against his deceiving the nations.”[5] If the stated purpose of the blinding of Satan is so he cannot deceive the nations, and as amillennialists hold, it started a the cross; how can Satan deceive the nations in Rev. 12:9? He could not. They hold that this binding is simply a limited power in regard to his work on earth, “as a rope, which can be more or less lengthened[6] Satan’s power has always been limited by the sovereignty of God.  This is totally against the immediate context, which speaks of complete inactivity by Satan. If Satan is bound today, there are two things to notice:

  • It goes against those scripture that show us Satan is the god of this world and active in the world today.
  • It goes against the experience of the early believers and those today. Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie (Acts 5:3). We are warned not to give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27). We are in a battle against a spiritual host of wickedness (Eph. 6:12). The whole world today lies under the power of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). The Scripture and experience speaks in concert that Satan is not yet bound.
The duration of this confinement is one thousand years (20:3b). The amillennialist must say this is symbolic and not literal. They are forced to say that because in their view Satan was bound at the cross, and he has been so for more than the time duration. In fact, the cross was over 2000 years. To be consistent in their view it must be taken in a figurative sense. However, Revelation takes it to be a part of the second coming of Christ and its aftermath. The word thousand is chilia, from which the word chiliasm is based. This is the belief that the thousand years is literal, the number of years Christ will reign on earth in the Millennial Kingdom. All appearance seems to be against the view that Satan is bound and we are in the millennium now. He is not bound but loose in the world to cause mayhem.

He will be released from being bound at the end of the thousand years (20:3b). This will be his final release. Notice the word must, it speaks of absolute necessity. MacLeod states: “For some reason, grounded in the divine will, Satan will be released and will deceived the nations again. It is apparent that his long imprisonment will not change either his own plans or the character of humanity.”[7] He is released to lead the world in the last great war—Gog and Magog (20:7) that leads to his final destruction. During the time of his incarceration, Christ will rule on earth for that one thousand years. Rejoice! Christ will be the victor.  

[1]  J.I. Packer, “The Devil’s Dossier,” CHRISTIANITY TODAY, June 21, 1993, 24.
[2]  William R. Newell, THE BOOK OF REVELATION [Chicago, Moody Press, 1935], 315.
[3]  David J. MacLeod, “The Third ‘Last Thing’: The Binding of Satan,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, October-December 1999, 474,
[4]  R.C.H. Lenski, THE INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION, [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943], 564.
[5]  David J. MacLeod, “The Binding of Satan,” 482-483.
[6]  Simon J. Kistemaker, NTC: REVELATION, [Grand Rapids, Baker, 2001], 534.
[7] David J MacLeod, ‘The Binding of Satan,” 483.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Final Events #2 Supper of God


A study of Revelation 19:17-21

Connected with the second coming of Christ is the great supper of God. His coming sparks a great time of judgment with evil. It has been noted:

“Right away a great contrast occurs with this section of Revelation 19. Above, in verse 9, saints are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. “Supper” is deipnon, the primary meal of the day, and there it refers to the blessings and fellowship of the millennial reign of Christ…. But here, birds (vulture types) are invited to another supper (deipnon), only now it is to eat the flesh of those killed in this battle. Either one accepts God’s supper of grace, or he must face the one of God’s judgment.”[1]

The event has three main sections:

The Call to the Birds 19:17-18

The paragraph opens with another revelation by the angel. “I saw an angel standing in the sun” (19:17) marks a new event from the second coming. This designates the position of the angel. It amazes me that many cannot take this statement for what it says. They seem to take this reference as symbolic. They say it means the angel was at the highest point of the sky. Or, the sun stands from the angel in the place of splendor. Scott takes it as a symbol that the angel is standing at the very center of governmental authority.[2] That is pure spiritualization that has nothing to support it scripturally. However, I will stay with the text that the angel stood in the sun or more likely in front of the sun. This is the natural meaning of the text. There is no need to go beyond the natural meaning. Yet, there is no question that it is a view of splendor and great light and glory. The call by the angel is twofold:

  • Proclamation to the Birds (19:17). The proclamation is in the form of an inviting call to the birds which fly in midheaven to “come, assemble for the great supper of God.” This call goes out to assemble before the actual battle (cf. 19:20-21). It is a call to readiness. The event has not yet occurred when they were summoned (“so that you may eat” 19:18). What they are to be ready for them is “the great supper of God.”
  • The Purpose of the call (19:18). They are called for a cleanup mission. Animals, including birds, are often sacrifice in offering to God; here God surafices the wicked to offer to the birds. The wicked will share in the curse of Deuteronomy 28:26. Jesus predicted this slaughter in his return (Matt. 24:27-28). Jesus also said in the context of judgment, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered” (Luke 17:37). Five times the word flesh is used in this passage, each connected with classifications of men, once in regard to horses. “The divine judgment upon the wicked is no respecter of persons or station, and is the great equalizer of all” observes Walvoord.[3]
The Conflict 19:19.

John now comments briefly of the events that will precede the great supper of God. There will be the great conflict. This is parallel to Revelation 16:14. The world will be controlled by spirits of demons, which seduce kings and nations that make up the whole world against Christ. God will send them a strong delusion to believe what is false (2 Thess. 2:11). Evil has a unifying power. They will meet at Armageddon.[4] Armageddon is also known as the valley of Megiddo, located in Israel southeast of Mt. Carmel. This is an invasion of the nation of Israel by the gentile world. The battle is in concert with the Old Testament prophecies (cf. Zech. 12-14; Joel 2:11; 3:2). Seiss says “It is a day for executing an armed world—a world in covenant with Hell to overthrow the authority and throne of God….”[5] For the world this will be a day of great defeat and slaughter. It is called “the war of the great day of God” (Rev. 16:14). This phrase indicates the sovereignty, judgment, and victory of God.

The Capture of the Beast and False Prophet 19:20-21

This section marks twofold destiny:

  • The Beasts (19:20). It is during the conflict that the beast and false prophet are seized or taken (KJV). The Greek word is piazo, meaning to lay hold of, apprehend, arrest, or catch. It is used here in the judicial sense—to take into custody. The beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet rise and work together, they are dependent upon one another. He rises out of the earth (Rev. 13:11),[6] and carrietis out his work in the presence of the beast (Rev. 13:12). Figuratively speaking they are joined at the hip. Ironside calls them arch-conspirators.[7] It appears they are captured together because they are together. 
The false prophet ministry is deception so the world receives the mark of the beast and worships the image (cf. Rev. 13:12-17; 2 Thess. 2:9-12). The counterfeit duo is now in the hands of the Messiah/God. Their judgment is to be cast alive into the Lake of fire. This is the only record where these two are cast in the Lake of fire alive.  Here are the beast and false prophet that are first residents in the Lake of fire. They are there waiting for their leader, Satan himself and his followers. Being cast alive suggests conscious punishment in the lake of fire. They were in the fire of brimstone (burning sulfur), yet they are not consumed. This is not purgatory, nor annihilation for this fire neither annihilates nor purifies its residents.[8]  

  • Their Followers/Army (19:21). The text indicates the following details of their destiny. Unlike the two beasts; the rest are killed. Thomas notes: “the passive verb… (were killed) tells the fate of this vast portion of living humanity. Rather than going immediately to the lake of fire like the beast and false prophet, their spirits went to Hades until the judgment when they rise from the dead and eventually depart into the lake of fire.”[9] Their lives will be destroyed by the sword of the Word (Rev. 19:15). This fulfills the words of Isaiah 11:4; 49:2, 6. The sword here is not to be taken as a literal sword, rather the power of His word pronounced and exercised in judgment. God will destroy those who do not exercise faith in Christ. Their fate is sealed by the immediate power of the Messiah/Victor.
The destiny of these armies is now given over to the cleanup crew who now feast upon their bodies. The section began with the invitation to the supper of God, now the supper is supplied. All the guests were filled with their flesh.

This is the first of five end-time judgments.[10] There are at least three vital truths of this passage.

  • Jesus will win over Antichrist.
  • It shows the power of deceit and delusion.
  • It underscores the reality of divine judgment
Those who reject the gospel of God will face the judgment of God. This warns us to accept the gospel of grace of God, who paid the price for your sin in Christ. Today it is by grace we are saved through faith in the redemptive work of Christ (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).

[1] J. Hampton Keathley, STUDIES IN REVELATION, www. Bible Org, 1997, n.p.
[2]  Walter Scott, EXPOSITION OF THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, [Westwood NJ, Revell, n.d.], 390.
[3] John F. Walvoord, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1966], 279,
[4] For a more complete study of Armageddon see J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1969], 341-358.
[5] J.A. Seiss, THE APOCALYPSE: LECTURES ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, reprint 1972] 441.  
[6]  I believe this refers to the false prophet that will come out of Israel, whereas the beast comes out of the sea, symbolizing the gentile world.
[7] Harry A. Ironside, LECTURES ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, [New York, Loizeaux, 1930], 330.
[8] Ibid, 330.
[9] Robert L Thomas, REVELATION 8-22, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1995], 399.
[10]  E.W. Bullinger, THE APOCALYPSE, [London, Bagster, reprint 1972], 607.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Final events 001

A study of Revelation19:11-16

John in Revelation 19 describes the final event of the Second Coming of Christ. This is not to be confused with the rapture of the church. The rapture has already taken place, and they are not the same event. They are different in these key areas to name a few:[1]

·         The rapture involves a catching away of the saints meet the Lord in the air; the second coming He returns to earth (1 Thess. 4:19; cf. Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11).

·         It is our view that the rapture takes place before the time of the tribulation, the second coming at the end of the tribulation.

·         The rapture is a message of comfort; the second advent has a message of judgment (1 Thess. 4:20; Rev. 19:15).

·         The rapture affect believers only; while the second coming and an effect on all men (1 Thess. 4:15-16; Rev 19:15).

·         The rapture transfigures the saints to imperishable bodies; but evidently at His second coming there is no transfiguration. At least, it is not indicated in Scripture.

Bible students, scholars, and theologians believe that the second coming of Christ is to occur at the end of the tribulation and before the millennium.

The starting point of the at final events on earth is the second coming of Christ. His coming a second time is a necessity. There are five reasons for it:

·         To rescue of God’s people.

·         To judge the world.

·         To display His glory.

·         To fulfill His promises.

·         To conquer all evil, human and demonic.

Revelation 19:11-16 is the key passage on the second coming of Christ. The starting point of the last events of Scripture and eschatology. It is also the last coming of Christ in this present evil age. However, it is not the end for it leads to other events, i.e. the last great conflict, the Millennium, White Throne judgment, etc. There are five elements revealed about the second coming of Christ:

His Appearing (19:11). 

“I saw heaven open” is visionary language. John has referred to it at least 3 times before in this book—4:1; 11:19; 15:5. They each reveal a heavenly scene, involving the throne, or temple, and heavenly beings, and God. Each reveals and features judgement on the earth.[2]

In Revelation 19:11 the heaven open to reveal the coming Warrior-Victor. Jesus Christ as Warrior-Victor brings judgment on evil and the evil ones and vindication for the believing ones. It should be noted that Scripture teaches:

·         The return is personal (cf. Luke 21:27)

·         The return is visible (cf. Rev. 1:7, Matt 24:27)

·         The return will be sudden, without warning (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2)

·         The return will be powerful revealing His glory (Matt 24:30)

It reveals the origin of His coming out of heaven to wage war. MacLeod reminds us in those days, horses were not just farm animals, race horses, not modes of transportation; but were thought of as military machines.[3] They were primary used in war. The figure here reinforces the picture that He comes as warrior. The picture here is in contrast to two things:

·         His first coming to earth and entering Jerusalem upon a donkey; indicating humility.

·         Another white horse and rider in Revelation 6:2. This rider is not the Messiah (Christ), but a counterfeit. Thomas tells us:

“First in sequence among the signs spoken of earlier by Christ was the emergence of many ‘imposter’ christs…. This conclusion agrees with the character of the other three riders.”[4] These riders bring evil to the earth; Christ in Revelation 19 brings victory over evil.

The character of the Warrior-Victor is “Faithful and True” (19:11). This builds on the character of Christ which is a common theme (cf. 3:14; 16:7). He judges in righteousness (cf. Psa. 7:11; 9:4,8; Rev. 16:7). His justice is based on His character of righteousness and truth. Christ is faithful to His word, which is true. He is true in His judgments. Faithful has the thought of trustworthiness: He is trustworthy. True has the concept of truthful in character and in action. The Warrior-Victor has the character that is sharp contrast to the false or anti-Christ, who is a deceiver and a liar. Christ comes to carry out a war that is just and true against evil. Osborne notes, “The whole theme of lex talionis (law of retribution) that has been so prevalent in the book culminates in this passage.”[5] He will hand out what is due. Christ is faithful and true to His Word, will judge the wicked, and vindicate the saints.

His Appearance (19:12-13).

Here John gives us an objective description of the rider of the white horse. It is the Lord Jesus Christ coming in judgment. His appearance is described with the following elements:

·         His eyes are “a flame of fire.” The Greek has the idea of a raging fire. It enforces the concept of the second coming of Christ as the avenging one upon evil. “It evokes Christ’s role as divine judge.”[6] The phrase is used in Rev. 1:14 and 2:18-23. In each case judgment is in view. Daniel 10:6 is the prophecy on which this is based. Some see discernment as the major element of the phrase.[7] While I grant that discernment is an element of judgment; the context suggests the concept of judgment as the major element behind the phrase. However, the vision involves a penetration factor by which discernment is made,[8] but the idea does not override the emphasis on judgment of God; rather it reinforces it (cf. Mal 3:2).

·         His head has many diadems (19:12). He no longer wears a crown of thrones. A diadem is a crown of royality.  These types of crowns are not limited to Christ; but found on the dragon (Rev. 12:3) and the beast (Rev. 13:1). However, the crowns are in contrast and different from those of Christ.  Christ and the saints are four wearing stephanos; the victors crown (cf. 14:14). The dragon, the beast, and Christ here are a ruler’s crown.[9] “His multiple emblems of royalty are appropriate because He is King of kings,” says Thomas.[10] It denotes His all-encompassing sovereignty and authority. While Christ here wears many ruler’s crown, he also has a victor’s crown. The victors crown is never spoken of in reference to the beast or dragon.   

·         His unknown name (19:12). He has a name written on Him that no one knows except Himself. This is a perfect passive participle indicating the name was given to Him in the past, but never revealed.[11] This statement has spurred all kinds of speculation. It is best not to do so. Although Beale suggests it is connected with the new name given to Israel and points to Isa. 62:2-3, in connection with Isa. 63:1-3.[12] Upon the coming of going into the kingdom Israel is given a new name to indicate their intimate relationship with God (Isa 62:4-5).  This unknown name was unrevealed to the readers, and it is not revealed to us. The name is incomprehensible to us. It will not be revealed until He comes in power in the end times. Mounce suggests it “expresses the mystery of His person.”[13]

·         What He wears— “a robe dipped in blood” (19:13). There have been a number of ways the reference to blood has been understood including His own blood; the blood of the martyrs; or the blood of the wicked. The context however, is very clear; it is His coming in judgment of the wicked (cf. 19:11) This description is of the Warrior-King coming in judgment. It is natural, therefore, to take the bloody robe in connection with this judgment. One should not overlook Isa 63:1-3 in this regard. At the time of His coming in judgment He will tread the winepress with His enemies. His garment is stained from the process. Notice he treads it alone. The work of judgment is His alone. Walvoord observes, “Christ as the slain Lamb in Revelation speaks of redemption by blood; here blood represents divine judgment upon wicked men.”[14]

·         His known name— “and His name is called The Word of God.” This is a name in addition to the unknow name (cf. 19:12). This ties the coming warrior to the human Jesus, who was the Word (John 1:1, 14). The word called is perfect passive, thus it indicates “having been called.” The same Jesus who came is the same Jesus who is the coming one.  It is the same person who has the name of The Word of God.

His Army (19:14)

The rider on the white horse, the Word of God, the warrior-victor brings with Him an army. We are told three things about this army:

·         It is a heavenly army: “the armies which are in heaven.” Like much in the Revelation, the identification of the army is open to debate. The identification of the army has three views—angelic beings; the saints; and a combination of both. The view that these are angelic seem to be supported by both the Old and New Testament. An angelic army is mentioned in Psalm 103:20-21 and associated with the second coming and the kingdom (cf. Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:30-31; 2 Thess. 1:7). This is in concert with the most basic and primitive subject of prophecy. “These are angelic host who are accustomed to make war, and fight against Satan and his host.”[15] It is hard to argue otherwise.

·         Yet, most seem to take this as the saints. This views argues more from the book itself. Their arguments are mainly two: First, those who come with Christ are those who are “called, chosen, and faithful (Rev. 17:14).[16] We cannot overlook the book of Daniel concerning this. Daniel 7:21-22 that judgment is given to the saints of the most High. The saints of the Old Testament are the believers of Israel. Second, in Rev. 19:8, the bride is dressed in “fine linen, bright and clean.” The bride wears the same clothing as the army. It also indicates that this relationship are works related, for righteousness is not reckoned by faith, but works earned; it refers to righteous acts.[17] Still many associate and identify the bride as the church based on Ephesians 5:22-32.[18] However, there are significant differences that must be pointed out:

o    The righteousness in Ephesians is not work-based as in Rev. 19. It is redemptive and sanctified righteousness which comes about by the work of Christ. In Rev. 19:7 these make themselves ready. It is by their work.

o    Although the marriage imagery is used by Paul, nowhere is the church specifically called the bride of Christ, or wife for that matter.

o    The church is identified specifically as “members of His body.” This connects the church as part of the groom. He is the head, we are the body of Christ.

His Activities (19:15)

It is clear that at the second coming, Christ is coming to conquer evil. He is the warring Messiah. This verse is clearly couched in Old Testament prophecy, which is climaxed in the activities of His coming. These activities fulfill prophecy. Notice the prophecies:

·         Isaiah 49:2 predicts that the Messiah is coming the “mouth like a sharp sword.”

·         Isaiah 11:4 predicts the Messiah will “smite the nations.”

·         Psalm 2:9 predicts His smiting of the nations.

·         Isaiah 63:1-3 is alluded to the coming to carry out wrath.

The overwhelming voice of prophecy is that the coming of Messiah is to judge the world of the wicked and evil. To vanquish them and set up His earthly kingdom.  

There are three main activities that fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament:

·         “He may [should—KJV] strike down the nations.” Strike down is a strong word and indicates inflicting a fatal blow. While the word nations can mean gentiles, it is not used in Revelation in that context, which shows that the unbelieving of the Jewish nation is included (Rev. 2:26; 5:9; 10:11; 11:2, 9, 18; 12:5, 13:7; 14:6, 8; 15:4; 16:19; 17:15; 18:3, 23; 20:3, 8; 21:24, 26; 22:2). They are slain because they are judged according to the righteous word, which is likened by John as the sharp sword (cf. Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12). Paul confirms this in 2 Thess. 2:8. It speaks of His irresistible power. Interestingly, these ones are slain twice. There is the first death which speaks of physical death (Rev. 19:21). They will also experience the second death, cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:12).

·         “He will rule them with a rod of iron” (cf. Ps. 110:1-2; Rev. 2:27). The emphasis is on the one who will rule. The intensive pronoun (Himself or He) enforces the Messiah’s personal, unassisted role in his victory over His enemies.[19] The word rule has the idea of herding, nurturing, tending as a Shepard.[20] The word rod can mean not only a rod, but a staff, or scepter. The picture is a shepherd that “guards His flock by destroying the predators that would harm it.”[21] It reminds one of the prophecy of Numbers 24:17-19. By the rod in the shepard’s hand has a twofold purpose: First, to care and lead the flock. Second, to defend the flock from raiding beasts who want to destroy the flock. Beside destroying the beast and his armies, He will rule nations as an inherence to rule (Rev. 12:5). It speaks of His protecting power.

·         “He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” This image combines two concepts—the winepress (cf. Rev. 14:19) and the cup of wrath (14:10).[22] The word He specifies a personal identity and act—Christ Himself treads the winepress. It is at the winepress God will carry out His fierce anger. The word anger or wrath is found 13 times in Revelation 6 to 19. It speaks of His powerful judgment against what He hates. Mounce correctly declares: “Any view of God that eliminates judgment and his hatred of sin in the interest of an emasculated doctrine of sentimental affection finds no support in the strong and virile realism of the Apocalypse.”[23]

His Authority (19:16).

He has all authority for He is the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. This tile is written on His robe and thigh. It is a title already applied to Christ (Rev.17:14). It is the title of deity. It carries the idea of being supreme; that no King or Lord is above Him. His authority is above all. It speaks of His universal sovereignty.

Jesus Christ is coming again. The Apostle Paul tells us that His appearing will come at the proper time as KINGS OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, for He alone is eternal and dwells in light. “To Him be honor and eternal dominion!” (1 Timothy 6:15).

[1] J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1969], 206-207; C.F. Baker, DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY [Grand Rapids MI, Grace Bible College, 1971], 585.
[2]  G.K. Beale, REVELATION: A SHORTER COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 2015], 409.
[3]  David J. MacLeod, “The First “Last Thing”: The Second Coming of Christ,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, April-June 1999.
[4]  Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION: AN EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY, 2 Volumes, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1992], 1:423.
[5]  Grant R. Osborne, BECNT: REVELATION, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2002], 680.
[6]  G. K. Beale, REVELATION, 410.
[7]  David J. MacLeod, “The Second Coming of Christ,” BIB-SAC, April 1999, 212.
[8]  Grant R. Osborne, BECNT: REVELATION, 680-681.
[9]  Ibid, 681.
[10] Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:395.
[11] Tony Garland, A TESTAMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, Electronic media, Spirit & Truth. Org., 2004, 2:92.
[12] G.K. Beale, REVELATION, 410.
[13] Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: THE BOOK OF REVELATION, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1998], 353.
[14]  John F. Walvoord, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1974], 277.
[15] E.W. Bullinger, THE APOCALYPSE, [London, Samuel Bagster & Sons, reprint 1972], 600.
[16]  Interestingly, Bullinger omits any reference to who these are. He simply says they are God’s chosen forces.  THE APOCALYPSE, 545.   
[17]  The word righteous is dikaiomata, meaning righteous deeds or acts and in the plural. It is clearly related to human works. James C. Healan II, THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB, [Grand Rapids MI, BIBLE DOCTRINES PUBLICATION, 1992], 41.
[18] John F. Walvoord, REVELATION, 272.
[19]  Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:389.
[20]  Tony Garland, A TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, 2:95.
[21]  David J. MacLeod, “The Second Coming of Christ,” 217.
[22]  Robert L. Thomas, REVELATION, 2:390.
[23]  Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: REVELATION, 365.