vv.17-18 The purpose of this vision is twofold:
- He calls the birds before the slaughter begins (V.17) – shows the absolute surety of the outcome of Armageddon. It is over in the mind of God.
- Any “flesh” in opposition to God will be put down (v.18) immediately by the Lord. See Isa. 2:22, I cor. 1:29. Literal flesh, but also figures “the flesh”.
18 that ye may eat (1) flesh of kings, and (2) flesh of chiliarchs, and (3) flesh of strong men, and (4) flesh of horses and of (5) those that sit upon them, and (6) flesh of all, both free and bond, and small and great. v.18a sixfold pronouncement of the “end of all flesh” (Gen. 6:13) ranging from the flesh in the highest governmental positions, through the military ranks, the human agencies, down to the smallest peasant, or even a slave.
the Ravenous Birds may be literal and figurative. this supper speaks of a scene of moral and physical death;
- literally, somebody has to clean up the mess. It is very likely that there will be a great feast for the vultures. it speaks of the governmental judgment of God.
- figuratively, The birds (speak of demons, Matt. 13:19) who were the agents that assembled these armies (Rev. 16:13) but now come up with them, attracted to “dead flesh” in open battle with the lamb, and their enjoyment of the destruction of human flesh (Luke 9:39). they
- “empower” these armies, but also “devour” them after the slaughter. and one more thing, at this supper the demons are conveniently gathered for disposal into the abyss… see Isa 24:21-23, “the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high”.
3rd Vision: The Judgment at Armageddon (19:19-21)
A war to Determine the Sovereignty of the Earth (vv.19-21)
¶ 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. v.19 We have two leaders, the beast and “him that sat on the horse.” In other places (v.14) the Lord has “armies” but here emphasis is on their being united. The lord catches the beast by surprise, “as a thief”. The beast realizes that Christ has come to personally intervene in his plans. His immediate decision is to “make war”. The question is of the sovereignty of the earth in the next millennium… will the diabolical gentile power succeed to rule the world? or will Christ take his inheritance and set up his world kingdom? The answer is immediately given in v.20. see DAN. 2:44-45.
To make war. It appears that the beast comes across the Mediterranean to make war with the King of the North who has just invaded “his” territory. But he arrives too late, because the Assyrian has already swept by at 1260 days, and passed into Egypt. Instead he meets the Lord… and incredibly decides to make war with the Lamb! The beast truly thinks he is greater than all other kings, even than God Himself (Isa. 14:4-20)… perhaps this is why he makes this war. This will be the end of Babylon (Rev. 16:19), the moment when the stone “cut out without hands” smites the Gentile statue on the feet of clay and iron… the end of the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).
The armies are “gathered together”. A Caesar or a Napoleon or even a hitler could never bring about such a vast coalition of military force, and for such a purpose. Only Satan could accomplish such a thing (Rev. 16:13, 14, 16). The beast’s armies come via ships (Num. 24:24).
- “From the coast of Chittim” – from Greece and italy
- “and afflict Asshur” – early campaigns against the king of the north and his arab confederacy
- “and afflict Eber” – comes across to Israel, megiddo
- “and shall be for destruction” – the Lord’s victory
The west today still measures military strength by their naval power.
The kings of the earth are not the “ten kings”, which are already included with the Beast, Rev. 17:14. these are the very kings who wailed over the fall of religious Babylon (Rev. 18:9-10), now about to meet their end in confederation with political babylon. In Rev. 14:8, 17:2, and 18:3 we see that the false church had a cup in her hand, containing “wine of the fury of her fornication”. It is a delicious cup to the kings and merchants, but it is laced with poison. The kings and merchants lament the fall of babylon, but they are unaware that they have drunk a fatal dose, and will perish with final babylon at the appearing.
20 And the beast was taken, and the false prophet that was with him, who wrought the signs before him by which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and those that worship his image. Alive were both cast into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone; v.20 Judge and jury are present… the personal beast and Antichrist are cast directly into everlasting torment. This is the time of the harvest judgment – also cast in with them are the “tares” from the kingdom, gathered by the angels (Matt. 13:41-42, Matt. 24:36-41, Rev. 14:14-16). They are not killed, but “cast alive”… they will not need to be “raised” at the resurrection of the Dead at the end of the millennium. The beast and the false prophet with shortly be joined in the lake of fire by the King of the North, who will be cast in (Isa. 30:33) at 1290 days, only 12 days later. These are the first two in the lake of fire, followed by those of like character (the “tares”). “he deceived them” – The special indictment of the Antichrist is that he deceived the followers of the beast. leaders are always more responsible than those who are led. When the King of the North begins his descent the Antichrist flees (John 10:13, Zech. 11: 17, Isa. 22: 19-21) presumably to Rome. He returns “with” the beast.
21 and the rest were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which goes out of his mouth; and all the birds were filled with their flesh. v.21 “the rest” – of the beast’s armies. There is no clash of swords, no battle to speak of. The heavenly armies don’t need to ride through the ranks slashing and stabbing… the only weapon in the entire army is the voice of the Lord. Instantly deprived of their leaders, the followers of the beast are killed – not by a literal sword – but by the voice of the Lord (Psa. 29:5). There they lie, dead, a great supper for the birds, but “after death the judgment” – see Rev. 14:9-11, 20:11-15. so their leaders go directly into the fire, but the followers must wait out the 1000 years in torment (Hades) until the Great white throne.
(Matt. 25:31-46). This judgment chronologically takes place between Rev. 19 and Rev. 20. Revelation doesn’t mention it because it is concerned with the Christianized lands primarily, and the outlying nations are not focused on. read more…
4th Vision: Satan Bound for 1000 Years (Millennium) (20:1-3)
¶ And I saw an angel descending from the heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand. v.1 This is the same key that was used in Rev. 9:1 to loose the demonic influences from the pit… We see that although Antichrist used the key, the key resides in heaven. The key and chain show us that God is supreme even over the satanic region of the abyss. Who is this angel? I enjoy that it might be Christ himself, although the expositors seem to think it is a mere angel.
2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, v.2 Satan will be literally captured on earth, although perhaps not visibly to men. The names of the dragon are mentioned in the same order as Rev. 12:9 – see note. The only difference is the “great” is dropped. His is plain old “dragon” after the middle of the week. There, his sphere of influence was restricted to the earth, here it is narrowed again… there is only one more step down (v.10). See notes on Rev. 12.
The demons too will also be cast into the pit for 1000 years, then “visited again”, see Isa 24:21-23. Abyss signifies deep or bottomless. Evidently the demons know they will be locked up there at some “time” in the future… they begged Jesus not to send them there early, Luke 8:31. This is a special holding place – not Hades or the Lake of Fire – a place called “tartarus” in 2 Peter 2:4, where the fallen “sons of god” are bound – and never get out until the “great day”.
3 and cast him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should not any more deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be loosed for a little time. v.3 The pit is “sealed over him” showing that the government – Christ – takes responsibility for his imprisonment; e.g. the Persian king Cyrus – Dan. 6:17, and the Roman prefect Pontious Pilate (Matt. 27:60, 64, 66). What a comfort to the millennial saints! He will “no more deceive the nations” which is his chief characteristic, and role in prophetic events (Rev. 16:13, 14; Rev. 20:8), and has been a success story until this time (1 John 5:19).
5th Vision: Heavenly Saints Reign with Christ for 1000 Years (20:4-10)
The First Resurrection (Rev. 20:4). It is of utmost importance to understand the first resurrection. The first resurrection is a resurrection "from among the dead". All of the dead will be raised, but the first resurrection is a special resurrection that will take place before the general resurrection. It is "from among the dead" because some will be raised and others left in the grave. Only believers will be raised in the first resurrection. The first resurrection is like a seal of God's approval on the souls of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ; therefore He separates them from the rest of mankind. It the case of Christ, it was God's full satisfaction and pleasure in His Son. In the case of believers, it is on account of our acceptance through the Son. As we know, the first resurrection is separated from the resurrection of the wicked dead by 1000 years; "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5). However, the first resurrection has three parts, or installments. All three installments are seen together in Rev. 20:4.
- Christ the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23). When Jesus rose from the dead, the first resurrection began. His body was raised and changed into a "body of glory" (Phil. 3:21). Lazarus and others who were raised were not part of the first resurrection, because Christ is "the firstfruits". Just as the firstfruits of a certain crop guarantee a much greater harvest of the same fruit, so Christ's resurrection was the promise of many to follow in the first resurrection. As of today, Christ is still the only man with a glorified body... but that will change very soon!
- The sleeping saints at the rapture (1 Cor. 15:23; 52). All those who "are Christ's" that have died will be raised at the rapture; "afterward, they that are Christ's at His coming". The question might be raised, which part of His coming? The rapture or the appearing? This is answered for us in 1 Thess. 4:16, that the dead will be raised when the Lord descends from heaven at the rapture. This will include all saints, from Adam on down to the last one in the grave. We know this because while all saints are not "in Christ" (1 Thess. 4), yet they all "are Christ's" (1 Cor. 15). Hebrews 11:40 would also indicate that the Old Testament saints are waiting for us to be "made perfect"; i.e. glorified. These raised and raptured saints will go up to heaven to be "with the Lord". They are seen in Revelation under the figure of "the twenty-four elders".
- The martyred remnant in the tribulation (Rev. 20:4; 14:13). After the rapture, the seventieth week of Daniel will unfold, and many saints will be martyred. Some will be killed in the first 3 1/2 years by the false Church for preaching the gospel of the Kingdom (see Rev. 6:9-11, 17:6, 18:24, and 19:2). Others will be killed in the last 3 1/2 years by the beast for not worshiping him (Rev. 13:15-17). Some will be Jewish (Rev. 11:3-12, 14:2-3) and some will be Gentile (Rev. 15:2). They will not miss out on sharing the Millennial reign of Christ with the other saints! By connecting Rev.11:11 with Rev. 14:13, it seems that the moment of the third installment in which all martyred saints are raised and bodily ascend, is just before the Son of Man appears. This is necessary so Christ can come with ALL His saints (1 Thess. 3:13) at His appearing, and then all reign together in the Millennium (Rev. 20:4).
The first resurrection (vv.4-6)
¶ 4 And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of God; and those who had not done homage to the beast nor to his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and hand; v.4a gives us not so much the moment of the First resurrection, but the Membership of the first resurrection. “But each in his own rank” (I COR. 15:23).
- Old and New Testament saints. The “they” must refer to Christ’s army (rev. 19:19), the very twenty-four elders, seated (see Dan. 7:9). a “THRONE” IS A SYMBOL OF AUTHORITY, and sitters are given “judgment” or administrative RESPONSIBILITY (Heb. 2:5, I Cor. 6:2-3). Two more classes now join them.
note: next He sees the souls (disembodied persons) then sees them come alive.
- Martyrs of the First 3.5 years. Killed by the false Church for preaching the gospel of the Kingdom (see Rev. 6:9-11, 17:6, 18:24, and 19:2).
- Martyrs of the Last 3.5 years. killed by the beast for not worshiping him (Rev. 13:15-17). Some Jewish (Rev. 11:3-12, 14:2-3) and some gentile (15:2).
- Christ. These three classes of persons are seen with CHRIST, THE FIRST-FRUITS (I Cor. 15:23) “the first-fruits, Christ (4); then those that are the Christ’s at his coming” – (1) at the rapture, and (2) + (3) at the appearing.
4b and they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years: v.4b “and they lived” could be translated “and they came to life”. It is a reference to the moment of the third phase of the First resurrection, in which all martyred tribulation saints are raised. see Rev. 14:13 and Rev. 11:11… the actual moment is just prior to the appearing of Christ. All the first resurrection will be at the marriage supper of the lamb, will ride out of heaven with him, and reign with him in the millennial kingdom.
Death in the Millennium. There will be death in the millennium, but none of the righteous will die. and Even the aging process in the unsaved will be slowed (Isa. 65:20).
. Old Testament Saints knew of a General resurrection that is all (John 11:24). When Christ came he presented something new, that the resurrection would have two aspects (John 5:29). Paul adds even more detail: Christ rose first, then those that are Christ’s at His coming will rise (I Cor. 15:23). some will rise at the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18), but Paul did not explain that another phase will occur at the appearing… Revelation shows us that. Here (v.5) we get the added detail of the space of time between the end of the first resurrection and that of the wicked dead; the 1000 years. read more…
5 (the rest of the dead did not live till the thousand years had been completed.) This is the first resurrection. v.5 The significance of this verse is to show that the first resurrection is separated from the resurrection of the wicked by the 1000 years. Their bodies will be in the earth, sea, etc. (v.13) claimed by “death” but their souls will be in “Hades” – these are two states.
6 Blessed and holy he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. v.6 If a dead person does not participate in the first resurrection, there is only one other left, that of the damned. The first death is the separation of the body from the soul and spirit. the second death is eternal separation from God. Rev. 21:8 tells us the second death is another name for the Lake of fire, eternal punishment. Eternal separation is contrasted with being priests of God and Christ and kings with Christ. Both the holy (I Pet. 2:5) and royal (I Pet. 2:9) character of priesthood will be in fullest exercise. The 1000 years is longer than the longest span of life ever: Methuselah at 969 years.
Details of the millennium. John seems to jump right over the details of the millennium pertaining to the earth. Ezekiel takes us much further, describing:
- the settlement of the tribes in parallel bands across enlarged Palestine
- the millennial temple and its services
- the Jewish prince (Christ’s representative)
- the healing of the Dead Sea, etc.
Yet John does describe the Church in her heavenly millennial glory in an appendix, Rev. 21:9 – 22:6.
Satan Loosed and a Final Rebellion (vv.7-10)
Is the rebellion a test? Yes and no. The probationary period in which man was tested under various conditions was completed at the cross. The ultimate test was not the garden of Eden, nor the Millennial reign, but the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. In that sense the Millennium is not a test, but a display of God’s man (Psa. 2 + Psa. 8). But in another sense, God always tests profession. Many will only render feigned obedience (Psa. 2:9), and that profession will be tested.
Moral significance. The great moral significance of this final rebellion is that even the Millennium cannot improve the flesh. Man has three enemies: (1) the world, (2) the flesh, and (3) the Devil. In the Millennium, two of those three enemies will be out of commission. The world-system will have been destroyed and replaced with the world-kingdom of Christ (Rev. 11:15), and the Devil will be bound in the abyss for 1000 years. Yet still man is not satisfied. It shows that the worst enemy man has is really himself.
¶ 7 And when the thousand years have been completed, Satan shall be loosed from his prison, v.7 Before the Eternal state can be ushered in, the unbelievers must be purged out. God has always used Satan as a man uses fire, a tool to do his will. This will be Satan’s final useful act that he will unwittingly perform for God.
8 and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war, whose number is as the sand of the sea. v.8 many will only render feigned obedience to the authority of Christ. Not real faith, but a forced submission under the iron rod (Psa. 2:9). Only the Children born to Israel will be guaranteed to have faith… some of the children born to Gentiles may not have faith. This deception will take out all those who do not believe. “four corners” – mostly the outlying nations. “Gog, the Land of Magog” (Ezek. 38:2) IS destroyed at the wine-press… this final “Gog and Magog” is not the same Russia that we know today. But, these armies will have the same godless character as Russia, and the same sheer numbers.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of the heaven and devoured them. V.9 The “beloved city” is Jerusalem, The “camp of the saints” is all believing Jews and Gentiles (see W. Kelly). Apparently, all believers will flock to Jerusalem and “camp” around it, and the enemy hosts will come up and surround them. Quite different from the case of Christendom. Where the tare-wheat mixture continues to the judgment, at this time the “wheat” and the “tares” will separate themselves, forming two distinct arrays. The judgment however is the same: “fire” – the unmingled wrath of god. No saint will ever need a weapon, even to the very end.
10a And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, V.10a as “the dragon” (cruelty) he is lock in the pit, as “Satan” (opposer) he is loosed to start the rebellion, and as “the devil” (tempter of men) he is finally cast into the lake of fire.
10b where are both the beast and the false prophet; v.10b Prepared for the devil and his angels, the lake of fire receives men long before Satan… a token of the grace of god towards the “anointed covering cherub” (Ezek. 28). This is contrary to men’s paintings of Satan in hell now. Satan’s angels who have been confined to the bottomless pit will be also cast into the lake of fire at this time (Isa. 24:22).
10c and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages. v.10cThe false trinity will suffer unceasing torment all throughout their never-ending existence.
6th vision: great white throne, dissolution of heavens & earth (20:11)
¶ 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them. v.11 “Great” – the Judge is great, the occasion is great, and the consequences are great. “white” – purity according to the nature of God Himself. “Throne” – the symbol of absolute authority, before which every knee shall bow. The judge is Lord (John 5:22+27, II Tim. 4:1). The heaven & earth, even in a millennial condition, cannot stand before his unveiled glory… it triggers the dissolution of the elements.
The melting of the elements. This is literally, the "end of the world". The (physical) heaven and earth, our universe, will dissolve into the basic elements (Job. 14:12; Psa. 102:26; Heb. 1:12; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 20:11). They “fled away” and “no place was found for them”. This is because the heavens and earth will be re-made afterwards (Rev. 21:1, 2 Pet. 3:13). “Making” supposes pre-existing material, see notes on Gen. 1. The Spirit of God is careful not to say that the elements will be annihilated, but rather reduced down to the building blocks of matter. God will use these same building blocks again to make something new.
7th Vision: The Second Resurrection, and the second death (20:12-15)
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is that of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. v.12 The term “dead” here has a twofold significance; (1) physically dead, and (2) spiritually dead. John 5:28-29 tells us that the Lord’s voice will call the dead from their graves. The “great and small” are not talking about children and old people. There will be no children at this throne… Christ does not judge those who are under the age of responsibility (Matt. 18:10). Rather it is “size” in the aspect of stature in the world’s eyes; important and unimportant. Notice that they stand before “the throne”… not, as some translations say, “before God”. Why? Becuase the Father has committed all judgment to the Son of man (John 5:22, 27). It is the Son of man who sits upon the throne.
vv.12-13 “The books” (not literal) contain the works done by every person, although the page is blank for the Christian who is covered by the blood of christ. The “book of life” contains the names of the redeemed. You might wonder, “why do the books need to be opened? why not jump right to the book of life?” The answer is, the books are needed to determine the severity of judgment. Luke 12:47 shows that God’s judgment is according to the measure of responsibility a person has. We are responsible for what we know.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged each according to their works: v.13 The “sea” is mentioned to answer the question of what happens to dead bodies the get torn apart by fish, etc. God knows where every body is. Death & hades are the respective custodians of the body and soul/spirit (see Rev. 1:18). Any held in those states are yielded up to stand before the throne.
14 and death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. v.14 this means that these states (separation of body and soul/spirit are not going to continue any more. death and hades can into existence because of sin, and the lake of fire is the eternal depository of all contrary to God (I Cor. 15:26, “the last enemy“). Some might say that the wicked are annihilated, but v.14 is clear that the second death is the lake of fire.
15 And if any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. v.15 The “book of life” contains the names of the redeemed, opened as a “last check” for man’s benefit to see if they availed themselves of God’s offer of salvation. The last face that unbelievers will see is the face of Jesus as judge.
The Book of Life. The Lamb’s Book of Life has the elects’ names written from the founding of the world, Rev. 13:8, 17:8. The book of life (Rev. 3:5) is another aspect of the same, and it has names written upon profession, then blotted out if unreal when the door of mercy closes.
vv.12-15 The millennium opens and closes each with an act of sessional judgment, the Lord is the Judge in both cases.
|First sessional Judgment– Matthew 25:31 –
||Last sessional Judgment– Revelation 20:11-15 –
|Beginning of Millennium
||End of millennium
|Judgement of the Living
||Judgement of the Dead
|Judgement of Nations
||Judgement of Individuals
|The throne of Glory
||Great white throne
not a willing judge, he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Pet. 3:9). but rather, He “desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
8th Vision: The Eternal State (21:1-8)
The Eternal State. There are only three passages that describe the eternal state: Rev. 21:1-8, 2 Pet. 3:10-13, and 1 Cor. 15:24-28, although there are other minor references to it, such as "the eighth day" (Lev. 23:36, 39), possibly "the everlasting kingdom" (2 Pet. 1:11) would include it, and the "reconciliation of all things" (Col. 1:20). The eternal state is the end of all God’s purposes for the glory of Christ and the blessing of man. This is when God will have reconciled "all things" unto himself (Col. 1:20), and God will be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28).
There are really only three scriptural names for the eternal state:
- The "Age of Ages" (Rev. 20:10, Eph. 3:21)
- The "Day of God" (2 Cor. 15:28)
- The "Day of Eternity" (2 Pet. 3:18)
Truth about the Eternal State is only revealed in the New Testament. The Old Testament does not mention the eternal state. Isa. 65:17 speaks of a new heavens and earth, but that is a reference to the Millennium.
Transition to Eternity. An important question may be raised: what happens to the Millennial kingdom? This is answered in 1 Cor. 15:24-28. Christ received the Millennial kingdom as a man, and He accomplishes God's purposes as a man: putting down all enemies (final rebellion, death, the great white throne, etc.) and then He will give it up to the Father as a man. He must do this for God’s pleasure. God made man with this moment in mind… a perfect man in headship over the creation. But when that has been fulfilled, he delivers it up, that God might be all in all, and to devote Himself fully to His Bride. When the Eternal State begins, time as we know it will end; “then cometh the end” (1 Cor. 15:24). The sorrows of the old earth will be passed away: death, sorrow, pain, tears (Rev. 21:4). All things will be made “new” and according to the mind of God. Every stain of sin will be removed (John 1:29). In the Millennium, the earth was reigned “over” by Christ and the Church; in the eternal state, God will “dwell with men” - no separation. There is no need for reigning in the eternal state, because there will be no more sin.
Earthly inhabitants. Although we have no scripture to tell us precisely, it would appear that the saints of the Millennial earth will be transplanted into the new heavens and earth. We know there will be men on the earth in the eternal state (Rev. 21:3), that the righteous will not die in the Millennium (Isa. 65:20), and that only the wicked will be raised after the thousand years (Rev. 20:5). There will be no “nations” or different languages in the eternal state, just “men”. The distinction between Jew and Gentile will be gone. The number of distinct earthly inhabitants has changed in the following pattern: 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1.
Three conditions for righteousness are helpful to remember. First, righteousness is not upheld at the present time; in fact, believers suffer for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Second, "righteousness reigns" in the Millennium (Isa. 32:1). Third, "righteousness dwells" in the eternal state (2 Pet. 3:13). This is helpful also in understanding the difference between the Millennium and the Eternal State. The Millennium is a kingdom, and there are things to be ruled over, and evil to keep down. But in the eternal state, there is no more sin and rebellion, and also it is a permanent condition; hence, righteousness is said to dwell.