Rev. 19 and 20 Summarized
Handout: Rev. 8-18 Synopses.
This Week: We will jump forward and cover Revelation Chapters 19 and 20. Since we need to cover two complete chapters in one lesson, instead of my usual verse-by-verse method, I will discuss the important events and elements of each chapter in summary form. We covered the start of the Great Tribulation in chapter 6 with the opening of the Six Seals and continued in Chapter 7 with the sealing of the 144,000 evangelists from the 12 tribes of Israel and the salvation of the Great multitude who would become the Tribulation Saints. Chapters 8 through 18, which we skip, describe the remainder of the Tribulation, and I have prepared a synopsis which will give you at least a thumbnail view of each chapter. Chapter 18 ends with the Fall of Babylon, which symbolized God's final triumph over the most powerful political and economic centers of the world (subject to varying interpretations).
REVELATION 19: This Chapter forms the background for what precedes Eternity with Jesus Christ.
Read Rev. 19:1-6: 1After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 3 Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever." 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!" 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great." Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Summary: John turns his attention to heaven where he hears the "Hallelujah Choruses," a scene of praise and honor being given to God for His great victory over evil-i.e., the avenging of the martyrs and saints. During this time of praise, all the saved and the angels of heaven play a role in singing their praises to God. Their songs focus on the greatness of God, the reasons for His judgments, and His righteousness in judging those who rebelled against Him.
Read Rev. 19:7-10: 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Summary: The scene now shifts to the marriage of the Lamb. The Bridegroom, Jesus Christ is identified as the "Lamb." This title, more than any other, draws attention to the fact that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). The Lamb's bride is the church, which seems to suggest that all the redeemed believers of all the ages will be present for this "marriage supper." (Note: the Marriage Supper takes place in the Millennium). When John say that the redeemed have made themselves "ready," he is referring to their faithfulness during the time before the Second Coming. Christ gives His bride white robes that symbolize His righteousness being placed on their account. Much like any marriage, this is the beginning point of a lifelong, intimate relationship, this marriage between Christ and His bride signals the beginning of their eternity together.
Read Rev. 19:11-21: 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 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 with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
Summary: In these verses, as heaven opened, John introduces a vision that signifies the last battle between Christ and the forces of evil. Here, Jesus is depicted riding a white horse (symbolizing judgment), this time as the all-powerful, conquering warrior-Messiah, a complete contrast to His first coming as a humble servant riding on the colt of a donkey. Now He comes with the "armies of heaven" to "judge and make war." His robe "dipped in blood" represents the victory He won at Calvary and His name "Word of God" elevates Him as the highest revelation of God the Father. The "sharp sword" and "rod of iron" signify that He has the power to completely vanquish His enemies. Jesus has laid aside His priestly garments and put on the crowns (diadems) and kingly attire that represents His coming as the "King of kings and Lord of lords." At this point, an angel cried out, telling all the birds of heaven to assemble for "the great supper of the Lord" so that they could feed on the flesh of the vanquished enemies. Contrast this, a feast of judgment, with v.9, the marriage supper of the Lamb, a feast of joy. The chapter reaches it climax in vv. 19-21, as "the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against Him"-the battle of Armageddon. The battle is over almost as soon as it begins. The "beast" (not identified but likely the Antichrist and his world dictatorship) and his followers-the false prophets-were seized and thrown into the lake of fire. The rest of the enemies are slain and left to be eaten by the birds-no one is left alive.
REVELATION 20: This chapter concludes the seven years of tribulation and introduces the millennial reign of Christ. Whereas Ezek. 40-48 details the Lord's millennial reign from the perspective of the children of Israel, this chapter is seen from the perspective of the saints (i.e., saved Christians) who return with Jesus Christ to rule as priests and kings with the Lord. Note: Along with our "Futurist" interpretation of Revelation as a whole, we will be taking a "Premillenialist" view of the Millennial Kingdom which sees it as a literal 1,000-year period in which Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of numerous prophecies, reigns on the earth. The strongest argument for this view is the fact that so many Messianic prophecies have already been literally fulfilled, it follows that future prophecies will likewise be literally fulfilled.
Read Rev. 20:1-3: 1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Summary: After Christ's second coming, the earth is utterly desolate-a-jagged smoldering ruin. The righteous have been taken to heaven and the wicked left behind have been destroyed. As the chapter opens, John sees an angel come down from heaven who takes Satan and binds him for 1,000 years. Some commentators suggest that Satan, with no one to deceive, will be allowed to consider the effects which his sin has caused and fear the time when he will be fully and finally judged for it. Toward the end of the millennium, Satan will be "loosed" for "a little while."
Read Rev. 20:4-6: 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Summary: The scene shifts now to heaven where John sees "people" sitting on thrones as 'judges,' who are obviously the Tribulation Saints of Chapter 7. While these saints aren't empowered to actually decide the salvation or damnation of anyone (because we know each case has already been determined), they will be united with Christ in His authority to judge. Next, "those who had not worshipped the beast" represents the resurrection of all Christian believers who will be raised at the beginning of the Millennium. The "rest of the dead" in v. 5, refers to the wicked who are physically dead, whom God will raise at the end of the Millennium. John happily declares that death has no power over those (which includes us) who share the first resurrection.
Read Rev. 20:7-10: 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown 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.
Summary: Why did God release Satan from the Abyss at the end of the Millennium? No explicit answer is given; however, three reasons are implied by the text: (1) to demonstrate the wickedness of Satan; (2) to demonstrate the depravity of humanity; and (3) to demonstrate the justice of hell. Even at the end of 1,000 years, Satan comes out fighting and deceiving. With one last display of strength, Satan leads a final revolt against the Lord. The term "Gog and Magog" is used to describe nation from all over the world which rebel against God. How is it possible that such worldwide rebellion can occur against Christ's millennial reign? I don't have a crystal clear answer for this, but according the Premillenialist view, these rebels are the children of the original redeemed of the first resurrection, who by that time-40 generations later-possibly number in the billions ("like the sand of the sea"). Outwardly, they have been required to conform to the rule of Christ as king and make a profession of obedience, but for many, this was obviously superficial without any inward reality of faith in Christ. Therefore, despite living in a perfect environment-perfect government, perfect health, perfect climate, etc.-they were still fallen sinners capable of being conned into Satan's evil schemes. As John continues to describe events, God allows Satan's army marches to battle and surround the camp of saints and their city, but as soon as the battle begins, fire and destruction rains down from heaven to utterly consume them, after which Satan, finally, is thrown into the lake of fire. Scholars say that one of the purposes of these verses is to demonstrate the necessity of eternal punishment for those who have made themselves unfit for heaven. Even the perfect environment of the Millennial Kingdom wasn't enough to defeat man's sin nature and ultimate allegiance to Satan.
Read Rev. 20:11-15 - The Great White Throne Judgment: 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Summary: Here, John introduces the next phase of Revelation: He sees a "great white throne," as distinguished from the thrones mentioned in Revelation 30+ times previously. Though no specific mention is made of who is sitting on the throne, it's safe to assume it is Christ Himself. He is of such great majesty that earth and heaven flee away from Him. The "great and small" standing before Him are the wicked dead, who at that point, had been resurrected, and now they are to be judged and sentenced. It is clear also that the unsaved who died in the Millennium are included on this judg- ment. Judgment is to be made on the basis of the books which are opened (a book of life and a book of divine records on all others), and it's interesting that this is the point where the sheep, the saved, are separated for the goats, the lost.
Read Rev. 20:14-15 - The Lake of Fire: 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Summary: In a word, this means that all who physically died and were in Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. Note, modern scholars say that the translation of Hades as hell, is improper, as hell is actually a place of eternal punishment. This is the "second death." The sole basis of their judgment, according to v. 15, was whether or not their name was written in the book of life. Their fate is a total contrast to the saved of the first resurrection, who will spend eternity with Christ. According to John Walvoord and other modern eschatology scholars, those thrown into the lake of fire aren't annihilated but will suffer this punishment eternally, with Satan, the beast, and the false prophets. This is what we are saving people from-literal eternal (never ending) damnation. That's why the mission of our church and all other churches is so urgent. The end could happen at any time. Think about it. Every soul we win to Christ is one more saved from eternal punishment in the lake of fire.