Reading for Thursday, Dec 6: Revelation 19
Revelation began with seven letters to “the present” — letters to seven particular churches in Asia Minor. Beginning at 19:11, John closes out this work with seven visions of the future, the “end of all things”. These final visions do not represent a strict chronology but rather a series of pictures declaring God’s ultimate triumph at the end of human history. This is where our study of Revelation concludes.
With this series of visions beginning at 19:11, verses 1-10 are more fittingly read in light of the lament / praise of ch18. Read through these first verses of ch19 and you find rich expressions of praise:
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just…” (v1).
“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” (v5).
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” (v6)
These declarations answer the question Revelation poses all along: “Who’s in charge here anyway?” The answer from heaven gloriously declares that God has begun to reign, eternity bursting forth into our present condition of suffering and pain.
John envisions a wedding supper between the Lamb and His people, an ancient Messianic eschatological expectation for the Hebrew people. God’s people here are contrasted with the harlot of the previous chapter, the one who represents unfaithfulness and idolatry. The messianic table is prepared for Christ’s followers and the image calls to mind the words of Jesus who promises not to partake of the covenant feast until He presides over it with us in heaven (Luke 22; Matthew 26).
John’s first of these final visions begins at v11 with the image of Christ’s return, riding a white horse to make war and judge in righteousness (see Isa. 11:4). This is a vision of judgment, of Christ returning to right all wrongs and cleanse the earth of imperial tyranny and wickedness. His robe is dipped in blood, recalling the image of Isaiah 63 where God, the divine warrior, is red with the blood of his enemies.
In the closing scene of ch19, the vision extends to the final moment of judgment as the beast and the kings of the earth assemble armies for war against the Rider. But this battle is a swift one: beast and false prophet are captured and thrown into a lake of fire. Yet again, John has given us a vivid description of the Sovereign rule of God that will endure for all eternity.