The grand finale! This is it! The end has arrived! There is a light at the end of this tunnel! All of these conjure up excitement. Some of them bring comfort. All of them are a small way to describe our last camera angle we have here in Revelation. In this sermon we are going to look at Revelation 19:11-22:21. This will take us to the end of the book. To many this may be a relief finally this study will be over. Hopefully some will be disappointed I know I will be. Others will be excited at the new found knowledge they have. I know I am a little sad but overall excited about this section we are going to look at. This section of scripture has become one of my favorites as I have had the chance to study it this week.
Before we begin a review of some of the things we have learned so far would be wise. The theme of Revelation is the Victory of Jesus and His church over Satan and his helpers. It is a positive theme even though most of the things we have seen in the book have not always been that positive. Revelation is all about Jesus. It is a Revelation of Jesus Christ. Throughout the book we have consistently learned that as believers, as the church, our focus must be on Jesus at all times. The seven different camera angles we have looked at have started in Heaven and more often that not teach us something about Jesus.
We have learned that Revelation is not merely about the end of time but also describes predominately the time from when Jesus ascended to Heaven until He returns again for His church. The time frames such as the 1,260 days symbolize this and teach us that God’s protection is a short time but the persecution we face will be of a relatively short time, the 42 months which is the same as the 1,260 days.
A few sermons ago we began the second half of the book with chapter 12. Since chapter 12 we have had a deeper view or a behind the scenes look at the hostility the church faces. I must admit the picture has not always been bright and admittedly in the midst of the picture we may find it hard to focus on Jesus. Chapter 12-19:10 have been the setup for what we are going to look at today. In those chapters Satan, the beast, which is antichrist, and the false prophet, along with the scarlet prostitute of Babylon seem to take the day. They seem as if power is theirs and there is no one who could possibly take this away from them.
This seeming power has led to the persecution of believers as well as near. The church seems to be lifeless and without power when compared to the beauties and power of Babylon. In our last sermon we started to notice a change in the tide. Babylon is no more, the system of paganism we see in this world does not exist anymore. We learned that the beast and the false prophet will be destroyed although we have not seen it fully yet.
With the defeat of Babylon we read of praises in heaven and a fourfold hallelujah and before we ended we saw the introduction of the bride, which is a contrast to the woman of Babylon, and the marriage supper of the Lamb. We ended with the exhortation to Worship God. Revelation is full of worship. As a church worship should be like breathing for us. In this book there are many reasons to worship God. He protects us and He is sovereign over everything we see in this world. Worship God. As we come to this last section of the book we find even more reasons to praise God.
This morning notice seven things from this portion of scripture. First we see a battle in two parts in 19:11-21 and 20:7-10. Next we have what is commonly called the millennium in 20:1-6 after the millennium we have the last judgment in 20:11-15. With the last judgment finished we have the new heaven and new earth in 21:1-8 and fifthly we have the New Jerusalem described. Then we have a scene at the Throne of a river of life in 22:1-5 and lastly we have a plea for Jesus to come quickly in 22:6-21.
THE TWO PART BATTLE: 19:11-21 FIRST SCENE
John in 19:11 has a vision and it begins with heaven opening. This is what we have throughout the whole of the book. Heaven was opened and John sees a white horse. Seated on the white horse is the one who is called Faithful and True. This rider judges in righteousness and makes war in righteousness. His eyes are like a flame of fire and this rider is wearing on his head many diadems. He has a name written that only he knows.
This rider is clothed with a robe that has been dipped in blood. His robe is red because we read in verse 15 that this rider is the one who treads the great winepress of the wrath of God. The name by which He is called is the Word of God in verse 13. Who in the world could John be describing? This is Jesus. When one reads this you can not help but think about the opening verses of John’s Gospel. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God.
The description continues. Jesus on the white horse has the armies of heaven following after him. They are arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, and they were following on white horses. In verse 16 Jesus has a name written on His robe and His thigh of King of kings and Lord of lords. He is supreme. Only Jesus can truly be called King. Only Jesus can rightly be called Lord.
The vision continues in verse 17 with an angel standing in the sun and calling out with a loud voice to all the birds that were flying directly overhead to come and gather for the great feast, the great supper of God. They are called to eat the flesh of kings, of captains, of mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men both small and great. The vision continues and John sees the beast, antichrist, and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against Him who was seated on the horse and against His army.
This is the first scene we have of the battle. The battle of the great day of God Almighty. Remember in chapter 16 the frogs like demonic spirits which went out to gather the kings of the earth for the battle of the great day of God the Almighty? This is what we have here, but now the picture is fuller, the battle is now happening.
This battle is the great battle at the end of time as we know it. The beast, the false prophet throughout history have been constantly attacking Christ and His church. What we must keep in mind here is John is using literal things to teach us a spiritual truth. The vision that we have of Jesus as the rider is meant for us to be amazed at Him. The beast was marveled at but Jesus is marvelous beyond comprehension. I must admit I do not know if there will be an actual battle. I do not think this is what John is focusing on here. The beast, antichrist, and the second beast, false prophet, stand for systems. For example a political system that is aligned against Christ and brings about persecution of Jesus’ church.
The picture we have is of Jesus coming back. He has the armies of Heaven behind Him. He has come and he is going to destroy the beast and the false prophet once and for all. The beast along with the false prophet are captured. They are then thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. These systems as we know it will be no more when Jesus comes again. There will not be a place for them anymore. The rest, those who followed after the beast were destroyed, they suffer a physical death. This is contrasting the truth that the beast and the false prophet are systems as opposed to actual people. The followers die whereas the system is gone and is no more.
This is the first scene of the battle of the great day of God the Almighty. The punishment of this unholy trinity has begun. The second part will be in 20:7-11. Before we get to that there is what we will call an interlude in the vision if you will.
THE MILLENNIUM 20:1-6
These next six verses may be some of the most hotly debated verses in all of the Bible. We do not have time, nor would it be worthwhile with our scope, to go through all of the issues with these verses. We want to read them and teach them as John wrote them. Therefore we all must throw out any preconceived notions we may have.
First notice in this vision that John sees an angel coming down from heaven holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. The angel seized the dragon, which is Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. So first we want to see that Satan is bound. Satan is bound and then he is thrown into the bottomless pit and it is shut and sealed over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After this he must be released for a little while. So here we have the first mention of the thousand years.
What do these first three verses mean? This is just a replay of what happened in chapter 12. Remember there we saw Satan defeated twice. He was defeated when he tried to eat the child of the woman and in the next section we see him defeated and falling from heaven. The picture we had there and here is that Satan is a defeated foe. He is bound and cannot deceive the nations any longer. He may try to work, but in the end his plans will fail.
Secondly notice the scene shifts back to heaven. John sees thrones. Thrones in this book have been in heaven therefore we have shifted from earth back to heaven. Seated on the thrones were those to whom authority to judge was committed. John also sees 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 they had not received its mark. These came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
In this instance the thousand years is looked at from the vantage point of heaven. And in the first instance it is from an earthly vantage point. What we commonly hear described as the millennium is a 1,000 years or long period of time in which Jesus will rule on this earth and then the new heaven and the new earth come. The picture we have here is that the saints come to life and reign with Christ in heaven not earth. Notice in verse 5 the rest of the dead did not come to life. The rest of the dead means those who died not being in Christ. They were unbelievers. But believers came to life, the first resurrection and reigned with Christ. The first resurrection is when a believer dies they go straight to heaven. No wait time on that. Those who are in heaven now are reigning with Christ for the 1,000 years. It is not a golden time on the earth when Christ reigns. As nice as that sounds this is not what John is teaching here. The millennium is a rather long period of time in which Satan is bound, and those who have died in Christ go to be with Him in heaven, the first resurrection, and they will do this until Jesus comes again.
As we read verse 6 this seems to go in flow with what we talked about. Those who share in the first resurrection are blessed because the second death has no power over them. We will see the second death here soon.
THE TWO PART BATTLE: 20:7-11 SECOND SCENE
After the brief word on the 1,000 years John in verse 7 says when the thousand years are ended. The thousand years is the time frame from the ascension of Jesus right up until he comes again. After this Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to do what he has been hindered from doing. He will come out to deceive the nations. He also will gather them for battle. Sounds familiar? This is the same battle we started with. In the first scene the beast and the false prophet were destroyed.
One way I used to understand this is by remembering the movie Gettysburg, which of course is based on the great battle. In the beginning you have the rebel army trying to run up a hill and defeat the federal stronghold. But later in the movie you have Pickett’s last charge. In the first scene we have the beast and the false prophet. Now we have Satan gathered for battle. It is not two different battles but the same battle just at two different times.
The result here is the same as it was before. Satan is gathered for battle but fire comes down from heaven and consumes him and his army.
Notice with these two different scenes who is doing the fighting. Do the saints do it? Are we all of the sudden super soldiers? No in both instances Christ does the fighting. God the Father does the fighting. Satan thought he had power. Satan thought he was finally free, but his end was the same as we have seen throughout, he was defeated and once again the devil is a loser.
With his defeat Satan is thrown into the lake of fire along with his two agents the beast and the false prophet. They will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. The picture we have is their power and influence will be no more. Their power will never creep up again. Jesus had his foot on the throat of Satan and now he has pushed it all the way down and crushed Satan’s throat. The air is in him no more. He will never be able to exercise power ever again. There will be no agent he could use to have power again. Jesus has crushed him once and for all.
THE LAST JUDGMENT 20:11-15
In this grand finale up to this point we have seen the beast and the false prophet obliterated. Satan has been defeated. We have learned that from the time of the ascension of Jesus up until shortly before he returns Satan is bound and he can not deceive the nations any longer. All of this was done by Jesus. We had nothing to do with it. The beast, false prophet and Satan were defeated by the lamb. Satan is currently bound because of Jesus in His life, death and resurrection.
This brings us to the next part of this grand finale the last judgment. John now sees a great white throne. One was seated on it from whose presence earth and sky fled away and no place was found for them. This is God Almighty on the throne. To those who are not his they flee from His holy presence. All dead both great and small, this includes the saints, were seen. Books were opened then another book was opened the book of life. The dead were judged by what was written in them.
We see death and Hades in verse 14 thrown into the lake of fire. Death will be no more. No more dying. And the judgment ends on a somber yet joyful note. Anyone whose name was not written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. They will suffer eternal punishment. For the one whose name is written in the lambs book of life we have rescue in Jesus. We will not face the punishment we deserve because of what Jesus has done for us already.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH 21:1-8
With the last judgment finished we now go beyond the last judgment. We have not really gone beyond the last judgment in the book. In chapter 21 verses 1-8 John sees the New Heaven and the New Earth.
The description first starts with the first heaven and the first earth passing away. The sea was no more. Remember the sea where the first beast came from represents evil. The evil from which the beast came does not exist anymore. John then sees a holy City the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride. The New Jerusalem is the church, the bride of Christ.
Then a loud voice from heaven cries out that the dwelling place of God is with man. God will be supreme ruler. He will dwell with those who are His. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death will be no more. There will not be any need for mourning nor crying nor pain anymore because all of the former worries and cares of this life have passed away. The new has come and the old has been obliterated.
The one who was seated on the throne says in verse 5: Behold I am making all things new. He commands John to write down these words for they are trustworthy and true. They are trustworthy and true because of the one who spoke them. God the Father Himself. The Father goes on to say IT IS DONE! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of water without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. As believers we will finally have what we have longed for so long. We have longed to be with God and to have Him as ruler over us. To be ruler in a place with no more sin. A place with no more death. A place where we can live unhindered from the many things we let get in the way in this life.
Only those who follow God in this life will get this promise in the New Heaven and New Earth. Verse 8 teaches us that the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murders, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars will have as their portion the lake of fire that burns with sulfur, which is the second death. This should be a warning to us as well that we are not to take part in these and we are not to be characterized by these as the church.
The New Heaven and the New Earth is almost to good to be true. As a believer I know it is hard to think of a day when all the things we face now will not exist anymore. There will be no more evil to cause heartache in life. Think about all the things that we face here that will be no more. No more divorce. I hate divorce. It causes more problems than people will ever realize. In the New Heaven and New Earth there will be no more divorce. There will be no more murdering. Is there any more selfish act that can be done on this earth? There will be no more hurting people. There will be no malicious acts done against each other.
THE NEW JERUSALEM: 21:9-26
In the last section the New Jerusalem was mentioned. In verses 9-26 notice five things.
First the New Jerusalem is the Bride the wife of the Lamb. The New Jerusalem is the Church. This city is comprised of those who are a part of the 144,000. These are the saints from all of history. This bride is completely holy and pure. Unlike the woman of Babylon.
Second notice the New Jerusalem has the glory of God. God’s glory and His dwelling is with this city. Because of this the city shines like a most rare jewel like jasper as clear as crystal. John is stretching the way our minds work here. Jasper is actually a green color. But this New Jerusalem is so majestic and glorious that something that is green will look like clear as crystal. Once again this is just saying it will be unlike anything we have ever seen before.
Thirdly the wall of the city has twelve foundations. On the foundations were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This is teaching us that the churches teaching is to be built upon that which we have revealed in scripture.
Fourthly notice the foundations of the wall were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate and the list keeps going. The twelve gates were twelve pearls each of the gates made of a single pearl. The street of the city was pure gold transparent as glass. The city is majestic. It will once again be unlike anything we have seen before. What a glorious place to be. Who would not want to be here. Even with all of this majesty there is something that is even better yet.
Fifthly and lastly notice the lack of a temple in the New Jerusalem. There is no temple in the city for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city has no need for sun or moon or stars for the glory of God gives it light and its lamp is the Lamb. Showing that Jesus is our mediator between us and God. We get to God the Father through a relationship with Jesus. In the midst of all we see in the city the only thing that really matters is that Jesus, the Lamb, and God the Father are there. There is nothing more and nothing less we need. What more could we possibly want?
THE THRONE OF GOD AND THE LAMB 22:1-5
From this section we have a scene of the throne of the Lamb and God the Father. One thing we must notice here is in verse 4. John says we will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. This is contrasting when earth and sky fled away from God’s presence earlier. Moses was not even allowed to see God’s face on Mt. Sinai only His back. We will see His face and their will be no need to flee. What once was terrifying is not anymore because the wrath of God is finished and Jesus has taken it for those who are in Him.
Does that get you excited? I know it does me. To see God face to face. To be in such a place that sin will not come to mind any longer when we think about and then see God the Father. That pumps me up. There is nothing more that I want. I want to be with God face to face. I want to be in a place where my sin, even though it should not now, hinders me from drawing close to God. What a day that will be!
COME LORD JESUS 22:6-22
What a whirlwind this grand finale has been! It all started with Jesus defeating the beast and the false prophet. It was all the work of Jesus. Jesus did it all. I had nothing to do with it and you had nothing to do with it. There was a scene of Satan being bound for 1,000 years which is the time frame in which we live now. Those who have died in Christ reign with Him now in Heaven and have taken part in the first resurrection. Satan was then released and he was finally defeated with fire that came from heaven showing that his demise has a divine origin. Then last last judgment came. Those who have their names written in the book of life went to uninhibited joy and splendor to be in a city where God dwells with them face to face. There will be no more of the evil and sin that we now face will be no more. The things that cause us pain and sorrow here will be wiped out by God the Father and the Lamb. The New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ where the glory of God dwells and there is no need for a temple or any light because the glory of God and the Lamb are there.
In Revelation we have read over and over where praising and singing have been going on. This is what we will be doing for eternity. We will see God face to face. We will see Jesus face to face. What else could we do but worship God?
In the mean time while we as a church dwell in the 1,260 days of God’s protection, and live in the 42 months of the beasts rule, and while we live in the 1,000 years where Satan is bound and has no power or sway over us, what do we do? What should we be doing in the meantime?
To answer this we should end our study where John ends his letter. First from verse 7 know that Jesus is coming soon. It may seem like a long time to us. But He is coming. It is certain. It will happen. In the meantime we should be obedient to Jesus. We find this also in verse 7. Those who keep the words written in this prophecy are blessed. When we obey there comes blessing.
Next while we live in the last days we must worship God. In verse 8 John falls once again to worship the angel who delivered these things to hm. The angel rebukes John and tells him to worship God. Only God is rightly worthy of worship. As we said in our last sermon worship God now and practice for the eternal worship service we will be a part of.
Lastly long for the coming of Jesus. I want nothing more than for Jesus to come back. I used to think there were certain things I wanted to do in life before Jesus came back. It used to be graduate high school and get my license. Then after that it was man I want to get married. But none of those matter. I do not care anymore about those things. In verse 20 Jesus says: Surely I am coming soon. John’s response to this is AMEN! Come Lord Jesus. I too echo that with John. Come Lord Jesus. But while we wait we are to live in the grace that John speaks of in verse 21. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
While we wait for Jesus live in the grace he has so freely given to us. We need grace to make it in these days. Grace is the only way we are going to make it. Without grace I would be a dead man both spiritually and physically. The grace of Jesus turned this dead heart of mine into a heart of flesh.
Until the return of Jesus we will live in grace and as we do we say AMEN COME LORD JESUS!