AN UNCOMFORTABLE LOOK AND A DIRE WARNING- Revelation 19 - Part 2- April 16, 2023
MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG FROM
BETHANY BAPTIST IN RICHMOND, BC.
Prior to Easter week, in our study in the book of Revelation, we looked at a supper - the marriage supper of the Lamb – a supper whose invites have been offered to many but those accepting those invites not many but few. Had they only known that this Marriage Supper of the Lamb was going to be a time of celebration, unlike anything the world has ever seen? It’s a feast celebrating Jesus’ return and when that occurs, there will be no evil, no pain, and no life-altering diagnosis. Every trace of these and so much more, all gone and in their place, all creation living in the presence of Jesus. Sounds like a fairy tale? It actually is but not because the story is fiction but because everything our hearts long for is true. The happily ever after we were made for but tragically, most invitations crumpled and thrown on the ground which is what this chapter looks at.
As we return to Revelation 19 this morning, the invite window to the marriage feast has been closed. Now we are introduced to another feast that takes place at Jesus’ second coming, participation in this one not by invitation but by demand. A demand none can refuse. This time not invited TO the feast but tragically and needlessly, participants ARE the feast upon which scavengers are invited to dine.
Understand, that what is being spoken of here is not a Hollywood horror flick, where breathing returns when lights come on. Nor is it an event that has any different conclusion than what is stated. The most important thing you can hear this morning is this, you and I have been invited to a forever feast with the King but our attendance at that meal is determined by our response to the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That Jesus came to die in order to forgive our sins and give us new life in Him. Easter’s Cross making it clear, For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission, no payment for sin but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all sin Hebrews 9:22, 1 John 1:7. The Cross, your invitation to accept what Jesus offers you. And the Resurrection is undeniable proof that what He offers is true. So the options? only 2 - a Marriage feast celebration or a carrion feast condemnation - all determined by how you choose. Because you need to be clear, every person alive will participate in 1 of these two meals.
So this morning, an uncomfortable look and a dire warning about a feast foolishly chosen by those who refuse what God offers as they arm up to battle against Him, a battle they have no chance of winning. More than that, they have no chance of rendering even a single blow.
Let’s read: 19:11-21
What we’ve just read takes us back to the opening pages of Revelation where we read about Jesus’ return. Chapter 1 tells us, Behold, He - Jesus - is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him – even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen! IT IS TRUE I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord God, who was and is and is to come – the Almighty. Rev 1:7,8. In that same chapter, we also read a descriptor of a glorious, incomparable Jesus, exactly like what we read in Rev 19, His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns 19:12.
Revelation 1 connects real-time us to where we now are in Rev 19. Because of that, I want to bring attention to what we just read in :1 with the phrase, Every eye will see Him. At one time skeptics trumpeted this as undeniable evidence that God’s Word was intellectually impossible and as such, the Bible belonged on the bookshelf alongside Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. After all, in real-time, every eye seeing Jesus was impossible. Years later those responding felt better when technology seemed to answer. But I wonder, will this really the case?
Being told, every eye will see Him, IF taken as more than some general truth, means that no one, whether in a city’s high rise or a vine-covered jungle will miss His return; not someone blind from birth, not someone lying unresponsive in a coma. It also seems problematic that some will see this in the flesh while others have to make do with a 2 x 5 cell phone screen on the other side of the world. It’s true angels did say that Jesus’ return will occur in the same way, as you have seen Him go - His going site-specifically at the Mt. of Olives. So how do we put these two together? I suggest that His coming will be a worldwide spectacular where everyone will be given a first-hand, in-flesh view. Geographically impossible – sure. Physiologically impossible – no doubt. But is God impossible? - not for a moment. Don’t you think that the One who created the universe isn’t greater than the universe He created? Don’t you think that when He says, every eye will see Him, that He will have no difficulty bringing that about where every eye will see Him? That look - first-hand, filling them with a terrifying fear.
Rev 19:12 tells us that Jesus doesn’t appear as some blurry image rather what’s seen is vivid - His eyes, a flame of fire – again, a similar description we are given in Rev 1, His clothes dipped in blood and from His mouth a sharp sword.
This descriptor of His eyes and mouth are almost assuredly more metaphoric than literal, although what will be seen will leave everyone with the clear understanding that they are looking into the eyes of fire and a sword of righteous judgment. The descriptors shown in the picture are what no words can adequately convey. And in this, another reason I believe that in some amazing way, all humanity will have a first-hand, eye-to-eye look at this conquering Jesus. That look fills everyone who looks up at Him with awe and great fear, fear no doubt that will cause everyone to fall down as dead as the Apostle John tells us he did when He saw a glorified Jesus.
I don’t think there’s any way Jesus will be in flesh-to-flesh view for some and some technological on-screen looks for others. Admittedly, I could be wrong but one thing I am not wrong about is that the reality of Who King Jesus is will be fully conveyed. Now, no hint of Jesus, meek and mild, instead conquering Lamb - His Glory, His Power, His Righteousness, His Holiness and unmistakably, His fury where all that is evil will be forever destroyed.
There is one more aspect I want to note before leaving what we just read in Revelation 1 that Jesus is, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. It’s easy to read that as just another of Jesus’ names that help us understand who He is. While it does that, we need to understand and grab hold of that this is far more than one more title that is rightly His. It tells us that as the Alpha, He was present before sin’s pain and before sin’s heartache – before all the things that have distorted and crushed. This same Jesus, knowing all this would come - the choices we’d make, the pain we would choose, did not abandon the plan He started rather He stepped into sin’s pain, taking sin upon Himself to put an end to its power. That Jesus is the very same One, the Omega who will be present on the other side of all those things that have brought hurt. His marriage feast, His new kingdom plan, not for one moment stolen from Him. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega who gives us assurance that all will be made well, in a world that will reflect His glory, for the former things have passed away, behold I make all things new. Rev 21:4,5
This is the One for whom we are to live. Jesus who truly IS everything – who incomprehensibly has come to us – invites us: to know Him, to love Him, to follow Him and one day, to live with Him forever. Known, Chosen, Loved, Wanted. All is possible for any who chooses to repent and accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. God invites us to step into the fullness of what means. It’s that truth we are called to embrace and live out of when Scripture tells us, In Him, we live and move and have our being Acts 17:28. The Alpha – who we see in Rev 1 as Glorious and who, here in Rev 19 we see as the Omega who will bring an end to all that is wrong – an everlasting terror for those who refuse Him yet a glorious, new Alpha for those who call Him Saviour - to those He calls His own.
So with these reminders of who He is, let’s jump back to the words we began with in our reading this morning where the first thing we see coming out of heaven is a rider on a white horse. Earlier in Rev 6, we saw a similar scene of a rider on a white horse, only that rider comes as a deceiver who goes out to conquer. As he does, he brings worldwide destruction and pain. In his wake, a world was left in ruins.
But this rider - entirely different. He comes from heaven. His intent is also to make war but His war is based on justice, not destruction. Justice righting every wrong. Christ coming not as Saviour but as Judge, bringing judgment according to righteousness. His justice delivered upon sin and everything sin has done.
Here we are told that His robe is stained with blood and that, He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty 19:15. The prophet Isaiah prophesies of this almost 3,000 years ago, He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendour, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.” Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations, no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments Is 62:1-3
These are words of battle and of conquest. And the scene is graphic. The blood on His garments, is clearly, not the blood of redemption. Notice He is coming with others but they are not rendering judgment, He is - I have trodden the winepress alone. The armies of heaven that come with Him are present not so much as to wage war as to witness war that is waged upon those who have committed high treason against God and those who have joined their ranks. Understand, at this time there are no conscientious objectors, no participants conscripted against their will. Everyone who has raised a fist against God is there by choice. And the warrior against them is the Lord Jesus who we are told in 2 Thessalonians, Will kill the lawless one with the breath of His mouth, annihilating him by the splendour of His coming 2:8. Jesus merely having to appear and breathe.
Those with Jesus, their clothes as white and pure as when they left heaven.
Think of the contrast we see here. Jesus and the armies of heaven, dressed in purest white. The skies filled with their glory, their brightness, their power. And the scene below them on earth - a gathering of darkness. On the plains of Megiddo, masses of soldiers as far as the eye can see, stir up the dust as they move into position. Weaponry all assembled. Piles of ammunition stacked high. Supply lines at the ready. The might of their weaponry is beyond anything the world has ever seen. In their minds, nothing is left to chance. Added to the picture, what must be a rather eerie scene in the skies above - a dark cloud of circling scavengers, thousands upon thousands of them, more than could possibly be imagined. These have been called to gather for the feast. And then in an instant, earth’s dust suddenly mixed in with the bloodbath of slain animals and slain mankind, not one left alive, other than two who have been designated for a different end. So much blood that as Revelation 14 tells us, it is beyond comprehension. Then as ones on command, that dark cloud who have been circling in anticipation now diving into the scene with a voracious appetite. A feeding frenzy. Not one bird of prey was left unsatisfied. This scene horrific as anything that can be imagined.
This morning I’ve made no attempt to sanitize or downplay the scene. No attempt to portray this as anything other than the horror it is. Sure, I know it’s offensive to our sensitivities. That it would be so much nicer to present it as less gross because this isn’t the picture we want people to get when they come to a nice church, with nice people who sing nice songs. But it’s imperative that we see things as they will be. It’s imperative that we get a far better picture of how God views sin and the immense price a sinless Jesus paid when He took our sin upon Himself. Our sin is not just bad choices or wrong behaviours but sin that that separates us from God. This realization that calls us to decide for Whom we choose to live and what this really means to be a follower of Jesus.
As I was spending time in this chapter, I couldn’t help but wonder what those who have gathered for war in the plains of Megiddo will have been thinking as they are assembling for the great battle of Armageddon. Do they imagine this to be just one more occasion to kill the followers of Jesus as they’ve done without restraint over the last 7 years? To them is this just another in a long line of spiritual battles they have waged and seemingly won? Much of the time over the last 7 years, feeling immensely powerful with God not appearing to intervene in any significant way to stop the persecution and slaughter. Only this time, to make certain they are ready for what they obviously perceive as a greater battle to be faced, they have assembled their forces in huge numbers, numbers that to them must seem invincible, something no power in heaven or on earth could possibly overcome. This time, getting prepared for another David and Goliath encounter – only this time bringing together so many Goliaths, believing they could never be taken down no matter how many stones and how many slings are slung against them.
And then they will witness something they have never witnessed before – what we are told in 11 then Heaven opened. This is something they have never seen before.
Not a wide-open heaven. Truth is, no other occurrence in Scripture comes close to anything that matches this. Sure, we have 3 or 4 references to heaven being opened but those are brief and very different in nature. Jesus seeing heaven opened when He was baptized, a martyred Stephen looking into heaven, brief moments before His death and Peter was given a vision to better understand the mission God had called him to. But this look is entirely different.
It's also different from the few times we’ve seen a door open or a window opened to heaven. This time heaven is opened wide. Not for a look-in but for a sending-out, heaven thrown wide open to reveal Jesus on a white horse, coming as God’s Almighty Conquering King. Once wearing a crown of thorns, this time He is crowned with many crowns, and many diadems, signifying authority and rule. And on His robe and thigh, the name King of kings and Lord of lords. King Jesus returned just as He said, this time in glory and power. It’s what Zechariah spoke of, Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name is the only name. Zech 14:3,4,9.
And again, to ensure we don’t miss it, His robe dipped in blood. It’s interesting that before Jesus executes judgment, He already bears the marks, the blood of those who have prayed for God to bring judgment. Not one prayer was wasted or ignored, not one prayer was wasted. His robe dipped in the marks of those grieving over a life that’s been taken; His robe dipped into relationships torn apart; into innocence taken; into injustices done; into cruelty imposed. His righteous judgment is soon to be poured out on those who have used and abused, who have taken captive. And most prominent, His robe dipped in the blood of those who have been persecuted and martyred for their faith. His garments were stained crimson with the blood of God’s wrath. As He comes to crush and forever defeat sin.
God’s wrath is just the first-fruits of His judgment. First-fruits because we are told elsewhere that physical death does not mark the end of God’s judgment. Despite what we somewhat believe, death does not end human existence. The Bible is clear, we don’t just die and then everything about us is annihilated. Hebrews tells us, It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. 9:27 2 Corinthians say, For we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ 2 Cor 5:10, the living and the dead 1 Pet 4:5,6. The great news for the Christian is, ‘Not condemned!’. The terrifying news for the non-Christian is ‘Condemned already - dead in your sin’. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Jn 3:18
The wrath of God in what we see poured out, beginning in :judges17,18, defies description. It describes death on a scale unlike anything imagined. King Jesus judges and destroys all those who have rejected Him. But seen here, a view that takes us right to the heart of man that doesn’t just reject God, here, he is gathered with others to do battle against God. Romans tells us, The mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. Then in Romans 1, Though they knew God, they wouldn't worship Him as God 8:7;1:21. And Revelation 16 makes it clear, that despite warnings and judgments, they refuse to repent.
Now in Revelation 19, we get both the full evidence of that and the resulting judgment they receive, seen in their deaths but even more vividly seen in the treatment their bodies fall victim to. Food for the vultures and other scavengers. No honour is in a death like this. No dignity for warrior or king. The outcome is no better for those of no title or rank.
In the surround of the dead, two - the antichrist and the false prophet who escape death but given what they will immediately experience, they will have wished that death had come and their lives had ended. Because their judgment is to be immediately thrown alive into the lake of fire. The final judgment of all others is still to come in what we will later see at the Great White Throne judgment.
Okay – so how we possibly end up on a triumphant note after being immersed in the scenes we have looked at this morning? Only one way and that is understanding that everything we have looked at marks the end of all that is evil, all that has brought pain, and all that has been destroyed. That, what is seen is the End which marks the beginning of Jesus’ Kingdom on earth.
Thy Kingdom COME on earth as it is in heaven
for there is No Other King!
Video: No Other King