Rev. 19:11-20:3 / The Rest of the Story
Reid A Ferguson
Revelation Part 33 / Eschatology: Last Judgment; Christ reigns for a thousand years; Second Coming / Rev. 19:11–20:3; Isaiah 63:1–6
The 2nd great vision of the Resurrected Christ
Audio for this Sermon can be found HERE
During the 2nd World War, radio broadcaster Paul Harvey – with his unmistakable voice and cadence – began including a segment in his daily newscast called “The Rest of the Story.”
Each installment centered around some culturally familiar event, fact or person. Then, Harvey supplied unknown or surprising information that gave the listener an entirely new perspective on the person or event being discussed.
Example: Al, was utterly useless. He wrote to his sister saying “I’m nothing but a burden on my family, really, it would have been better if I had never been born.”
At 22 he had hit bottom. His parents had become impoverished and couldn’t support him any longer. And he couldn’t get a job anywhere.
He was thrown out of high school at 15. With no diploma, he couldn’t go to college, so he opted to apply at a technical school – but flunked the 1st entrance exam. So he tried to go back to high school. His old school wouldn’t accept him, but another one did. Graduating there, he went back to technical school. But with his record of chronically cutting classes, barely passing his tests and disrespecting his teachers – no one wanted to hire him.
Finally, pushing an old school chum whose Dad had some connections, he got an interview with Fred Haller at the Federal patent office. They needed a guy to take a first look at patent applications to see if they had any merit.
When Fred asked Al what he knew about patents, he answered truthfully – nothing. But for some reason he took a chance on Al. He thought Al was just a failure that needed some self-confidence, and so gave him a probationary job as “technical expert 3rd class.” Al did OK at the job. And the boost helped him a lot.
And thus began the career of one Albert Einstein. And now you know – The Rest of the Story.
Well this portion of Rev. 19 plays a similar revelatory role.
As Ch. 18 records the coming downfall of this present world system and the compromising church with it, together dubbed Babylon in the text – so it also recorded the response of fallen humanity to Babylon’s demise. It mourned.
In contrast to that response, last week, we saw how Heaven erupted in its 3 transcendent hymns of Hallelujah!
But now, we’re about to get the rest of the story.
1- Jesus personally destroys Babylon
In today’s portion, we’ll see that this worldly system doesn’t just collapse due to its own corruption, or merely fade away. Rather, it is personally judged and thrown down by Jesus Christ Himself.
2 – Satan bound for 1000 years
Then we’ll see that even Satan himself is to be dealt with – powerfully. Even if temporarily at first. He will be bound and a period of extraordinary and unprecedented blessing on this earth will be had before Satan’s final disposition.
3 – The glories of the Coming Kingdom
Then in the balance of the book we will begin to catch glimpses of the coming Kingdom of Christ Paul says the Believers are waiting for:
Titus 2:11–13 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Today: A Cosmos Shattering vision of Jesus
You will remember how in Ch. 1 we saw what we termed a soul shattering vision of the risen Christ? Well hang onto your hats – because if that first vision was unbearably fabulous – what we are about to see absolutely defies imagination.
And the 12 aspects of this vision in themselves spell out so much of what we briefly mentioned last week – “Do you want to know the key to unlock all of Scripture and its prophecies? The wonder, the fullness, the majesty, power and fullest revelation of God, His person, nature character and works is all found here – in the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Let me briefly give you the overview, and then we’ll spend our time on this stupendous vision of Jesus.
1st – 11-16 The vision of Jesus.
2nd – Revelation 19:17–18 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, 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.”
17-18 The angelic call to “the great supper of God.” No interpreter takes this as literal – but rather as symbolic of how utter the devastation is. In the ancient world, one showed the most disdain possible against their enemies by refusing to bury their dead bodies after a war – leaving them to be mere carrion. Food for the animals. That is the picture here. God has no use or compassion for this corrupt world system in any way, shape or form. It has to be completely and utterly destroyed. It is not redeemable. Jesus will not return to re-establish or rescue Western Civilization nor any other.
Revelation 19:19–21 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. 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. 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.
19-21 Reminds us that the world, the world system and mindset is utterly opposed to the rule of God in Christ and that they are irreconcilable.
Personal autonomy, self-styled spirituality, materialistic well-being and human constructs of morality are utterly opposed to God and must be eradicated. One is either for God and the rule of Christ or opposed to God and His enemy. There is no neutral stance as James 4:4 tells us.
James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
20:1-3 Reveals to us that Satan himself, the one behind all human opposition to God will be absolutely disarmed for a season.
Revelation 20:1–3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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.
But! He will be allowed one last assault before his final disposition. That will get unpacked a bit more in the weeks to come.
So let’s go back to vs. 11 and begin to examine the vision of Jesus shown to John in more detail.
Revelation 19:11 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.
As we’ve seen before, one riding on a white horse would have been a familiar picture to the 1st readers in that this was typical of a conquering king in their day. Once the battle had been won, the king would ride into his newly captured territory on a white horse to announce his victory. And here Jesus is shown to be the ultimate conqueror over sin and rebellion and even death itself. But what about this King Jesus?
- FAITHFUL AND TRUE. I love that the vision begins here. think for a moment how this would have impacted John. He is the last living Apostle.
All of his fellow apostles and many more have been martyred already.
He is an old man, exiled to a desolate island.
The state of the church is not the best as we saw in the chs. 2 & 3. The church is being co-opted by the World in a lot of cases, and persecuted by the World and the government when it won’t compromise.
Jesus hasn’t returned.
What is to become of it all?
And so what is revealed to him 1st at this moment? That the conquering Jesus – what riding on a white horse signifies – is FAITHFUL!
He always, always, ALWAYS fulfills His promises.
He can be trusted to fulfill everything.
He will not, cannot fail to deliver.
He WILL come again. He WILL set the world to rights. He WILL judge sin. He WILL vanquish Satan. He WILL reward His saints. He is faithful!
AND, He is true – trustworthy. He is to be believed, no matter what things may look like.
He is always – true. He cannot lie.
- IT IS IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE HE MAKES WAR. Mankind is forever starting and fighting wars that have at their root human lust for power and acquisition.
Satan’s war on God and God’s people has never been just or rooted in righteousness.
Not so Christ Jesus.
He doesn’t come to conquer all because of His ego, or because this ball of dirt is worth anything in itself. He comes and makes war to bring about righteousness and for nothing but pure and holy motives.
He does not judge capriciously or skewed by any personal biases – but makes war because the evil of this present world and age need to be conquered because it is right.
Because mankind, made in His image needs to be redeemed from the bondage and shame of sin.
Because those the Father has given Him MUST be bought and restored at all costs.
Revelation 19:12 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.
- HIS EYES ARE LIKE A FLAME OF FIRE. As in the vision of ch. 1 this is to signify He needs no outside light source to see anything.
He perceives and knows everything with perfect accuracy due to the light He brings to it.
And He always discerns rightly. He cannot be fooled. Nothing can be hidden from Him, even the darkest secrets of the heart.
Proverbs 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!
- ON HIS HEAD ARE MANY DIADEMS. Many diadems signify the breadth of His Lordship.
Allow me to steal liberally from that famous sermon by S. M. Lockridge given years ago: The Bible says my king, is the King of the Jews; He’s the King of Israel; He’s the King of Righteousness; He’s the King of the Ages; He’s the King of Heaven; He’s the King of Glory; He’s the King of Kings; And He is the Lord of Lords; That’s my King;
And I wonder…do you know Him?
My King, is a sovereign King; No means of measure can define His limitless love;
He’s enduringly strong; He’s entirely sincere; He’s eternally steadfast; He’s immortally graceful; He’s imperially powerful; He’s impartially merciful;
Do you know Him?
He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world;
He’s God’s Son; He’s the sinner’s Savior; He’s the centerpiece of civilization; He’s unparalleled; He’s unprecedented; He is the loftiest idea in literature; He’s the highest personality in philosophy; He’s the fundamental doctrine of True Theology; He’s the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Savior;
I wonder if you know Him today?
He supplies strength for the weak; He available for the tempted and the tried;
He sympathizes and He saves; He strengthens and sustains; He guards and he guides; He heals the sick; He cleansed the lepers; He forgives sinners; He discharges debtors; He delivers the captive; He defends the feeble; He blesses the young; He serves the unfortunate; He regards the aged; He rewards the diligent; He beautifies the meager
I wonder if you know Him?
He’s the key to knowledge; He’s the wellspring of wisdom; He’s the doorway of deliverance; He’s the pathway of peace; He’s the roadway of righteousness; He’s the highway of holiness; He’s the gateway of glory
Do you know Him?
His life is matchless; His goodness is limitless; His mercy is everlasting; His love never changes; His Word is enough; He grace is sufficient; His reign is righteous;
And His yoke is easy ; And His burden is light; I wish I could describe Him to you;
He’s indescribable; He’s incomprehensible; He’s invincible; He’s irresistible; You can’t get Him out of your mind; You can’t get Him off of your hand; You can’t outlive Him; And you can’t live without Him;
The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him; But they found out they couldn’t stop Him;
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him; Herod couldn’t kill Him; Death couldn’t handle Him; And the grave couldn’t hold Him;
That’s my King!”
On His head are MANY diadems!
- AND HE HAS A NAME WRITTEN THAT NO ONE KNOWS BUT HE HIMSELF.
He is Infinitely inexhaustible – we will never be able to comprehend Him entirely. There will always be more to discover and know and enjoy.
As Adam Clarke noted: God is “The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being: the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence: he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, and most spiritual of all essences; infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true, and holy: the cause of all being, the upholder of all things; infinitely happy, because infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made: illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only to himself, because an infinite mind can be fully apprehended only by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived; and who, from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, right, and kind.”
Revelation 19:13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
- A ROBE DIPPED IN BLOOD. A direct allusion to the Isa. passage we read earlier where God is pictured as the one who is “mighty to save” coming back from the conquest of delivering His people from the oppression of the World. He has done all it takes to bring salvation to His people.
- HE IS THE WORD OF GOD. He is the ultimate self-expression and self-disclosure of God Himself.
He does not HAVE the Word of God, He IS the Word of God. He is all that God has to say and reveal to us. In Him is the sum of all reality.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Everything God has to say and everything God IS – is wrapped up in this Jesus.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
- THE ARMIES OF HEAVEN FOLLOW HIM.
The angelic hosts all serve at His behest and follow Him in His purposes.
And note here – what an army. No armor, and no weapons – just clothed in righteousness.
The whole of the equipping of the heavenly host is summed up in this one thing – they follow Him!
Oh that we would understand that this is the key to every victory over temptation and brokenness and sin – FOLLOW HIM!
Revelation 19:15 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.
- HE DOES ALL HE DOES SIMPLY WITH HIS WORD. He needs nothing outside of Himself, but to make the pronouncement of His will brings all to pass – just as when He created the physical universe and all that is in it. He will conquer the nations simply by His word.
- HE WILL RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON.
And He will come to shepherd all people personally, not to set up some system. The word “rule” here is in fact the word used elsewhere in the NT to signify Shepherd or Pastor.
He will not simply rule – He will shepherd and pastor the nations He conquers.
The glory of the age to come isn’t that we will have some perfected form of human government. It is that He will personally rule and reign as the uncontested Monarch of all nations. A monarch who sees His role as shepherding. Leading, feeding and protecting.
And His rule is likened to a rod or scepter or shepherd’s crook of iron – that is, it is unbreakable.
- HE WILL TREAD THE WINE-PRESS OF THE FURY OF THE WRATH OF GOD.
Once again referencing Isa. 63, He personally will serve as both judge and executioner over sin and sinners.
He brings the Father’s justice to bear.
This is the fulfillment of what we heard in Ch. 6 when those who oppose God finally cry out “Hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne – and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
Sinful humanity will not stand before some cosmic court presided over by their peers – but before the sinless Lamb of God who will then Himself carry out the sentence.
If you are not a Christian today, listen to Jesus’ own words in this regard:
Luke 12:58–59 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
Settle with Jesus today – for today is the day of Grace. You can still come to Him.
It is not too late.
Bring your sin – your every sin.
Confess to Him that as God, you owed Him all of your allegiance, love and obedience but that you have been living in rebellion – living your life for yourself.
Come to Him and ask Him for His forgiveness – ask Him to cleanse you from every stain.
Bow to Him as Lord and King and He will not just forgive you, but love you, make you new and grant you the eternal life that union with Him brings.
He died on the Cross that the just wrath of God may be satisfied for you.
Come and put your faith and trust in His atoning work there.
Come and be born again.
Revelation 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Oh how I love this last image. On His thigh, where a soldier’s sword would ordinarily be – especially given the 1st figure of Him riding a white horse to make war – He needs no other weapon, than the unveiled revelation of who He is: The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
The absolute monarch of all things, in Heaven and on earth – in all the universe.
This Beloved is what it means when Paul writes in Phil 2:10 at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow.
At the full disclosure, at the full revelation of who Jesus really is – the mere vision of it itself will cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – to the glory of God the Father.
Imagine it! A scene so magnificent, so powerful that the mere sight of it will transform the entire universe.
So amazing. So transformative. So blessed and all-consumingly wonderful is this vision – this glorious revelation of Jesus – That Jesus Himself considers it the highest gift He can give us as His own dear Bride.
So in John 17 He prays:
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Oh Christian – no matter what you or I may face today, tomorrow or in the days to come – this is what awaits us. HE, is who awaits us.
And the glory of that day of meeting and final revelation will so satisfy us, so thrill us, so move us, so fill us – that we will know nothing but eternal, everlasting joy and love and glory.
Come quickly Lord Jesus!