Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and a retired College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

Revelation 20 The Last Battle and we Know who Wins!

Revelation 20:7-10

Image above is from https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/satan/what-about-satan-and-the-origin-of-evil/

We saw in previous posts that John takes a literary approach to writing his visions. From Chapter 12 to 22:5, John relates the appearance of the enemies of Christ’s Church in the order in which he sees them in his vision (along with images of God’s people interspersed throughout). Revelation does not record visions in chronological order that people on earth will experience them, and neither can modern persons plot the events on a timeline. The chart, based upon Vern Poythress’ commentary, I have used several times illustrates the order of events.

Chart on Chiasms in 12-21

This paragraph of Revelation teaches—

God will vindicate His people in the final battle by judging Satan (the Dragon) and his evil cohorts.

I. Satan’s binding occurs during the Church Age, but he will be released at the end to work further evil. vs. 7

Satan plottingvs. 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison…

As we have seen before in chapter 9, the abyss (the Greek word abyssos means “unfathomable depth”) is the place where the demons are incarcerated. They are not fixed to a wall like one would be in a modern prison. They are permitted to roam the earth to promote evil from their dark realm.

The abyss is further described as a “prison” (pylakē in Greek).

II. During the Church Age, Satan is prevented from gathering the nations into one army to destroy the Church. vs. 8

vs. 8 …and [Satan] will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to Satan released. 2gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

This is the same battle that is described in Revelation 19:17-21. The imagery from this verse is drawn from Ezekiel 38 and 39. Gog and Magog are representative of the enemies of God’s people. The literal nations which bore these names were the enemies of God’s ancient people Israel. They are used as a symbol of the enemies of the church, the new Israel. Many have pointed out that there seems to be a discrepancy between the chronology in Ezekiel and the one here in Revelation. Note that the discrepancy depends upon a person’s interpretation of Ezekiel. In both books the sequence of events are as follows: (1) the Millennium; (2) a rebellion; (3) the eternal kingdom.

fire falling at Armegeddon

Image left https://pixabay.com/photos/

William Hendriksen says this—

In other words, we have here in Revelation 20:7–10 a description of the same battle—not “war”—that was described in Revelation 16:12ff. and in Revelation 19:19. In all three cases we read in the original, the battle. Thus 16:14: “to gather them together for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty.” Again, Revelation 19:19: “gathered together to make the battle against him.” Similarly, here in 20:8: “to gather them together to the battle.” In other words, these are not three different battles. We have here one and the same battle. It is the battle of Har-Magedon in all three cases. It is the final attack of anti-Christian forces upon the Church. The “new” thing that Revelation 20 reveals is what happens to Satan as a result of this battle. (see Hendriksen, p. 195, below; emphasis mine.)

III. When the end of the age occurs, God will permit Satan to threaten the Church. vs. 9

vs. 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…

Here we have the ancient symbols used to describe the new Israel, the Church. In the New Testament elsewhere, the word “camp” (paremholē) is used to describe either a military camp or Israel’s encampment. See Acts 21:34. Also see Hebrews 13:11-13.

Saints surrounded

Saints Surrounded from https://www.goodfreephotos.com

The figure of a camp, stresses the “pilgrim character” of God’s people. (see Johnson A. F., below.) The second figure, “the city he loves,” has suggested to many that Jerusalem will be rebuilt in Palestine along with its temple for sacrifices. This is impossible from a theological standpoint. God used type and shadow in the Old Testament, but he has brought fulfillment and completion in the New Testament. He will not go back in the future, but will bring about further fulfillment and completion. It is impossible for God to go back to types and shadows. Therefore, the city must be a symbol for God’s people like the camp.

See Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Note that the text uses “battle language,” but the saints do not fight. They stand and watch fire fall on their enemies, for God himself does the fighting. 

The_Great_Day_of_His_Wrath_-_Google_Art_Project

John Martin – “The Great Day of His Wrath” – United States public domain

IV. The Church’s enemies and those who followed them share the same fate—eternal separation from God and punishment in hell. vs. 10

vs. 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.

Hell is described here as “the lake of fire and sulfur (puros kai theiou). This imagery is drawn from the Old Testament—Isaiah 30:33 “For a burning place [or Topheth] has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.”

Topheth was the place place outside Jerusalem where children were burned sacrifice to the god Molech—see Jeremiah
7:30-32. II Kings 23:10 describes what King Josiah did to prevent further sacrifice in Topheth.

Jesus used this same imagery—Matthew 5:22; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 13:49-50; and Matthew 25:41. [clink on the blue links above to read the verses.]

This passage make it clear that the punishment of the wicked will be eternal. The time references by day and by night are in a Greek noun case that stresses the kind of time (hemeras kai nyktos). Added to this is the phrase forever and ever (eis tois aiōnoas ton aiōnōn). It is literally “unto the ages of ages.”

An old preacher was once confronted by a skeptic saying that Scripture does not speak of eternity, but of “the ages of ages.” He replied, “Well, we will live as long as God does. That’s enough for me!”

Next time, we will look at the Great White Throne judgment.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 20: Reigning with Christ

Revelation 20:4-6

“Christ Reigning in Heaven” Image above public domain.

As I pointed out in the last post, there are four major dramatic acts in chapter 20:

1. The 1,000 Year Binding of Satan vs. 1-3
*2. The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ & His Saints vs. 4-6
3. The Gog & Magog Rebellion vs. 7-10
4. The Great White Throne Judgment vs. 12-15

We dealt with the first act in the last post. In this post, we will look at the second act—saints reigning with Christ from heaven.

How would first century believers in Asia Minor have viewed this second act of Revelation 20?

They would be familiar with social ostracism of Christians by Romans and those wishing to appear loyal to Rome. They knew of the threats of death for those who refused to worship the Emperor. Only one person had lost his life so far—Antipas (Rev. 2:13). His death was a harbinger of many to come in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries. People would wonder where the martyrs go and what is their state after death. Revelation 20:4-6 tells them and us where believers go after death. In theology we would say this question concerns the “Intermediate State.”

“Theologians refer to the intermediate state, by which they mean the time between our deaths and the final resurrection. When we die, our bodies will go into the grave, but our souls will go directly to heaven and be immediately in the presence of Jesus Christ. In the intermediate state, each of us will have a soul without a body, but the best of all possible situations will occur later, in the consummation of the kingdom of Christ, when our souls will take on imperishable and glorified bodies.” (see Sproul, below.)


canoe-on-lake

Picture in public domain from publicdomainpictures.net

I’m amazed to hear that many people have the idea that when their life has run its course and they take their final last breath, they will no longer exist. However, so much more lies ahead! Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) illustrates this in his book Wisps of Wildfire. A few weeks ago, in a small boat, I was making my way up one of the most picturesque of our Australian rivers. The forestry on both banks was magnificent beyond description … a canoe glided ahead of us. Presently, the waters seemed to come to an end and as we watched the canoe, to our astonishment, it just simply vanished.

But when we came to the point at which the canoe had so mysteriously disappeared, we beheld a sudden twist in the river artfully concealed by the tangle of bush. The blind alley was no blind alley after all!” Then, making reference to believers in Christ who had died, Boreham observed, “[They] have gone on—like the canoe. It had turned a bend in the river; they have turned a bend in the road.” Life may seem to end at death. At that “bend in the road,” however, the Christian is introduced into a new world where life at its best is enjoyed throughout the eternal ages. (see Talk Jesus Blog, below).


The message of Revelation 20:4-6 is—

The souls of faithful witnesses for Christ are resurrected in heaven at their death and join in the reign of Christ until he comes a Second.

I. This is a heavenly scene, not an earthly one, so the reign is exercised from heaven.

vs 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.

The same 1,000 years are covered in the second act. While Satan is bound, the faithful witnesses to Christ appear in heaven after death. Thrones in Revelation are always in Heaven.

why-was-jesus-born-to-prepare-us-to-reign-in-heaven-8-638

“Reigning with Christ,” from blog by R. Joseph Owles 

The word for “judge,” in 1:4, is krima, and must be taken in its OT context. Krima means “to vindicate one’s right by taking vengeance or inflicting punishment on another.” The OT judges were rulers, not just trial judges. This is a reference to the fact that the saints will share in Christ’s rule and reign during the 1,000 years (the Church age to Christ’s Second Coming).

Two groups are envisioned by John: (1) the saints, which comprise the largest group; (2) the martyrs, which is a smaller group, but which is specially honored for their faithfulness. John sees the “souls” of those reigning with Christ. The faithful witnesses and martyrs are seen in the intermediate state—as disembodied glorified souls.

Martyrdom

Note the word “beheaded” (pelekizō) means “to cut off with an axe.” The axe was the instrument of capital punishment in the early Republic of Rome. It was later replaced by the sword (machaira). What John sees is those who were martyred by Rome. Note martyrs do not always die at the time of their torture. They often suffer after being released and die later.

Faithful Witnesses

There is another description added to the group—”who did not worship the beast.” “Who” is the indefinite relative pronoun (hointines) used qualitatively—”which very ones.” The last phrase “they lived … with Christ.” The tense of the verb is past (aorist). It is used in a special sense—entering into a state—they “came to life and began to reign.” The martyrs were in the intermediate state and they experienced the first resurrection by Christ before they entered the kingdom. The second resurrection will be the reuniting of the soul and the glorified body at Christ’s return.

II. The first resurrection is the appearance of the soul in heaven after death.  

vs. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

Verse 5 provides the key to the interpretation of the millennium. “Come to life” is zaō the same word that occurred in verse 4. Here it refers to the the resurrection of the soul. Therefore, in verse 4 it must mean the same thing.

Welcome Home

“Welcome Home” Art Print by Danny Hahlbohm; available at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/welcome-home-danny-hahlbohm.html?product=art-print

The word “until” is achri. This means that the fist resurrection of the just occurs during the 1,000 years and that the resurrection of the lost occurs after the 1,000 years are over. In the gospels the resurrection of both groups are often spoken of in the same verse without any indication of separate resurrections. Compare John 5:25-29—

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Prophetic Telescoping 2

Image of “prophetic telescoping” adapted from Blog from https://deebrestin.com

Compare Isaiah 61:1-5 with Luke 4:17-21. Note where Jesus stopped his Isaiah synagogue reading in Luke 4—after the phrase–”to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He split the Isaiah passage into two parts. The rest of the Isaiah passage—”to proclaim … the day of vengeance of our God”—must await the second coming for fulfillment.

There is no indication in the Isaiah passage that there is to be a two stage fulfillment (see Chart above “telescoping”). It all looks like one event to Isaiah. He saw the mountain range as one vast mountain. Jesus adds further revelation concerning the time of the fulfillment. In Rev. 20, the Holy Spirit adds further revelation about the nature of the resurrection. The resurrection of the just souls will precede that of the lost. Lost souls will appear in hades during this same period. Isaiah must be seen as “prophetic telescoping.” Events far apart appear close when viewed from a distance by the OT saints. The first resurrection refers to the saints. The second death, mentioned later on, stands in contrast to it as the resurrection of the lost.

III. Christians at their death enter into a blessed state.

vs. 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.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism sets before us what life in the intermediate state will be like, and the nature of the resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming.

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united in Christ, do rest in their graves, till the resurrection.

Note the Catechism tells what the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming will include—

Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection? At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.


The committal at a graveside is always difficult for families. I only used the traditional words once—

Unto Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the ground…

At this point his adult child screamed. Needless to say, this was disturbing.

[I continued]…earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ… . (Book of Common Prayer, 1928).

I never went through that again! I always preface all comments at the graveside with the words, “We are not abandoning your loved one here.” I developed my own words of committal from the WSC Questions 37 and 38, quoted above.

Unto Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother/sister departed, and we commit her/his body to the Lord knowing that the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united in Christ, do rest in their graves, till the resurrection. Awaiting that Great Resurrection when believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity. Amen.

I have never had any outbursts of grief at a committal since these words give hope to those assembled around the grave.


Verse 6 forms verse one of seven beatitudes in Revelation. It might not be a bad idea to “count your [eternal] blessings” in times of difficulty.

1. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Rev. 1:3
2. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rev. 14:13
3. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Rev. 16:15
4. 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.” Rev. 19:9
*5. 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. Rev. 20:6
6. “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Rev. 22:7
7. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Rev. 22:14

How wonderful to realize the blessing of Almighty God is better than temporary perks in life from this world!

I John 2:15-17

15 Do not love* the world† or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [ESV]

* The word “do not” is the Greek negation + the present imperative of agapaõ to love. The significance of this construction is important. It should be translated “Stop loving the world!” The action is viewed as in effect in the present time. It is a regular force pulling people away from God.

† Matthew Henry gives the definition of “the world” (kosmos). “The things of the world may be desired and possessed for the uses and purposes which God intended, and they are to be used by his grace, and to his glory; but believers must not seek or value them for those purposes to which sin abuses them. (see Henry below.)

We ought to stop involvement, as much as possible, with the world system under Satan’s control! We ought to remember “the world is passing away along with its lusts, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

The saints and martyrs are said to reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Note that the time of Satan’s binding and the time of the reign are concurrent. The reign occurs because Satan is bound. Jude gives us an idea of the binding of fallen angels—

Jude vs. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day… . [NKJV]

Chains of Jude 6

I include the chart from last post to show the nature of the chains and the darkness.

John Calvin gives us great help in understanding angels in chains kept in darkness—

“They are not only free spirits but celestial powers; they are now held bound by perpetual chains. They not only enjoyed the glorious light of God, but his brightness shone forth in them, so that from them, as by rays, it spread over all parts of the universe; now they are sunk in darkness. But we are not to imagine a certain place in which the devils are shut up, for the Apostle simply intended to teach us how miserable their condition is, since the time they apostatized and lost their dignity. For wherever they go, they drag with them their own chains, and remain involved in darkness. Their extreme punishment is in the meantime, deferred until the great day comes. (see Calvin, below.)


Grassmarket Street

Picture from Penterest. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/182536591117361515/

When I went to Scotland in the summer of 1994, I toured Edinburgh. There is a famous part and an infamous part of the Grassmarket. On one end the sun always shines and it has lovely shops and places of business. In days past the other end of the street, always shrouded in darkness, had other businesses that serve the lusts of people wanting to indulge themselves.


Perhaps the fallen angels prefer to create darkness on earth since they are imprisoned in darkness in their realm. John 3:9 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Next time, the Gog and MaGog battle. 

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation)

Alford, H. (1851-61). The Greek New Testament, Vol. IV.

Augustine of Hippo. (ca. AD 426). The City of God. Book XX. Chapters 7-9. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120120.htm

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Calvin, J. (2021). Accessed 17 May 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/jude/1.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, W. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Henry, M. (1706). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary accessed 27 May 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_john/2-15.htm

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. S. (2000). The Coming King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Precept Austin. (2019). Accessed 17 May 2019 from https://www.preceptaustin.org/2_timothy_18-14

Sproul, R.C.. Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Reformation Trust Publishing, a Division of Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Book. Note: I recommend this book for a summary of theology. I have used Louis Berkof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine in the past in classes. However, like one of my professors in Seminary, Dr. Douglas Kelley, I recommend Sproul’s book since it applies theology to issues to our own day. 

Talk Jesus. (2017). “Beyond the Bend” Blog post for 11 April 2017.  Accessed 25 May 2021 from https://www.talkjesus.com/threads/beyond-the-bend-%E2%80%93.58079/

Victorinus of Pettau. (ca. A.D. 270). Commentary on the Apocalypse. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 20: The 1000 Year Binding of Satan

Revelation 20:1-3

Image above “Michael casts out rebel angels.” Illustration by Gustave Doré for John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Public domain.

There are four major dramatic acts in chapter 20:

1. The 1,000 Year Binding of Satan vs. 1-3
2. The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ & His Saints vs. 4-6
3. The Gog & Magog Rebellion vs. 7-10
4. The Great White Throne Judgment vs. 12-15

We will deal with the first section of the chapter in this post. How would the first century believers understand the binding of Satan? They would apply it to their daily lives in Asia Minor where Rome was present in statues and events overpowering all religion and culture. For anyone deviating from the accepted religion and culture, he would be confronted forcibly and it would impossible for him to find employment or to eke out a living. He would be shunned.

First century Christians could not say two words that would end their isolation—Kaesar Kurios—”Caesar is Lord.” They could affirm only Yēsous Κυrιοs—Jesus is Lord!

I Corinthians 12:3 tells us that under extreme persecution—”…no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”

“No one, speaking by the Spirit of God, can revile Christ; so, on the other hand, no one can speak well of Christ, but by the Spirit of Christ. To say that Jesus is accursed is utter blasphemy against him. To say that Jesus is the Lord, is to speak of him in honorable terms and with reverence, and to extol his majesty. …Of this the Scripture, also, frequently reminds us, and the saints everywhere, acknowledge that unless the Lord open their mouths, they are not fit to be the heralds of his praise. Among others, Isaiah says — ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5).” (see Calvin, below.)

John’s churches would face severe persecution in the future. Only one had died so far Antipas (Rev. 12:13). 


We should see in Revelation 20:1-3 this truth—

No matter what happens to believers on this earth, Satan is bound and is unable to do anything except Jesus Christ permit it. 


How’s your vision?

Dwight Edwards writes, Paul’s “chains were not clamped on by an oppressive Roman government, but by the hand of a loving, faithful Father Who was working it all to Paul’s ultimate good and His glory. And so Paul was able to avoid bitterness toward the Roman authorities, for he did not see them as acting on their own. Paul had developed 50-20 vision which Joseph describes in Genesis.” (see Precept Austin, below.)

spectacles-clipart-illustration 2

The circumstances may not change immediately, but a change in perspective—the Genesis 50:20 perspective—will help us stand firm for God in difficult times.

My vision was not so good. I have had recent cataract surgery and was awaiting my post-op glasses. Yesterday (5/20/2021), I finally got them! My wife said she had grown tired of my constantly saying, “I can’t see.”

In addition to all medicine can do to correct our faulty earthly vision, we also need a set of spiritual spectacles made according to the Genesis 50:20 prescription. We will face horrific persecution in the future if we remain true to Christ and bear witness to His Lordship in the power of the Spirit.


I. God is in full control over the spiritual realm. vs. 1

vs. 1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.

The angel descends from heaven to earth to bind Satan. He has what is described as the “key to the abyss.” The abyss in Scripture is the abode of demons—compare Rev. 9:1 ff and Luke 8:31. (Also see the blog posts on chapter 9.) He also has a great chain with him in John’s vision.

Note we are not envisioning real chains and cells for Satan and his fallen angels. If we do, we cannot conceive the binding of these evil powers.

One of the arguments used by the “non-supernaturalists theorists” is that a demon, who is a spirit, cannot be bound with a chain. However, compare this passage with the language of II Peter 2:4—”God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment,” (ESV) The Greek word for “hell” is tartarus a place of darkness where fallen angels are consigned. See the chart above where two different uses of chains are shown. The picture on the right is what Peter had in mind. To be held in chains is not chained to a wall, but it is chains that restrict movement such as in a prisoner is led from jail to the courtroom. He is shackled, not chained to a wall in his cell.

and Jude 6—”the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” [ESV]

Chains of Jude 6

Calvin says this of Jude 6—

They are not only free spirits but celestial powers; they are now held bound by perpetual chains. But we are not to imagine a certain place in which the devils are shut up, for the Apostle simply intended to teach us how miserable their condition is, since the time they apostatized and lost their dignity. For wherever they go, they drag with them their own chains, and remain involved in darkness. Their extreme punishment is in the meantime, deferred until the great day comes. (See Calvin on Jude, below.)

In both of these passages, spirits are “held in chains.” God who created these spirits is able to place them in chains. Of course, this does not have to be viewed as physical chains. John is using conventional language to describe a spiritual truth—Satan will be prevented from performing his will on earth for this 1,000 year period.


“Thin Places” where Heaven and Earth seem to draw closer

Unseen hand guiding surgeonI have used this figure before, but I think it helps us realize that different unseen dimensions affect us on earth. I got the idea from the ancient Celtic teaching that “heaven and earth are three feet apart and in some places they are closer.” They called the closer places  “thin places.” I have been in “thin places” where it seemed time stood still and heaven’s presence impinged on the earthly realm. I wished the heavenly “thin place” would have stayed longer. They are there for us when we need them.

Picture left from Pinterest.

“Thin places” where hell and earth seem to draw closertemptation of Christ

Not only is heaven close to earth, so also is hell. I also have been in “thin places” where it seemed hell drew near and impinged on the earthly realm. From the “thin place of evil” I ran from as fast as I could. If I fell, I got myself back up and prayed to God to give me strength to get out. Pictured right is Vasily Ivanovich Surikov – Temptation of Christ. 1872. Public domain.


The figure below illustrates the different dimensions that are in the same area, but cannot be seen by us. I have used it before. Colossians 2:1-4 sums this up well—

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Dimensions of Reality

II. Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. vs. 2

vs. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

The verbs in this verse are past (aorist) tenses. This is the normal tense for the Greeks. This time frame—1,000 years—is mentioned five times in this chapter. In Greek 1,000 is chilioi. Persons who hold to a physical reign of Christ and His people on the earth for 1,000 years are often referred to as “Chiliasts.” The binding lasts for a duration of 1,000 years, which is the longest time frame in the Revelation. Like the other numbers, 1,000 is symbolic—referring to that period of time beginning with Christ’s Resurrection and ending with the Second Coming of Christ. (see

Two early church fathers take a symbolic view of the Millennial passage: (1) Eusebius, The History of the Church, Book 3:39:11-13; and St. Augustine of Hippo in The City of God, Chapter 22.

III. Jesus Christ doesn’t allow Satan to overpower His church.  vs. 3

vs. 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.

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Saint_Michael_Fighting_the_DragonThe abyss is locked and sealed until the 1,000 is completed. This is important to the overall interpretation of the chapter. This is a reference to Satan’s curtailment of his activities on the earth. Note that Satan is no longer able to deceive the nations. Matt. 12:28-29 alludes to a binding of Satan in the life and ministry of our Lord—”28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.”

However, Rev. 20 states specifically what restrictions of Satan’s activities are included. After the 1,000 years, Satan’s restrictions will be removed. He will lead the nations in rebellion against Christ. It is referred to as the Gog and Magog rebellion. The restrained demons controlling nations under Satan’s plans, will be ripe for rebellion at the end of the 1,000 years. Note earlier we saw the destruction of Babylon, the Beast from the Sea, and the Beast from the land. Now we cover the same last battle which records the destruction of Satan, the Dragon.

Next time we move to the 2nd section.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation) 

Augustine of Hippo. (ca. AD 426). The City of God. Book XX. Chapters 7-9. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120120.htm

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Calvin, J. (2021). Commentary on I Corinthians; accessed 17 May 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/1_corinthians/12.htm

Calvin, J. (2021). Commentary on Jude; accessed 17 May 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/jude/1.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Keener, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. S. (2000). The Coming King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Precept Austin. (2019). Accessed 17 May 2019 from https://www.preceptaustin.org/2_timothy_18-14

Victorinus of Pettau. (ca. A.D. 270). Commentary on the Apocalypse. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 20: The Context of the “1000 Years”

Revelation 20:1-6

Image above is “Satan bound for 1000 years.” Revelation 20:3. Burney. Phillip Medhurst Collection.

We have now arrived at the one passage of Scripture that some persons use to interpret the entire book—the Millennium—the Latin word for 1,000. Some look to the daily news for fulfillment.

In former days, when we had brick and mortar stores in which to shop for religious books and if one were shopping for a commentary on revelation, one would thumb over to Chapter Twenty to see what the author’s view of the millennium. Then chapter four was perused to see what position the author takes on “the tribulation” and “the rapture of the church.”

If we place Revelation 20 into the context of the whole book, the chapter teaches—

God will judge the dragon, Satan, once for all at the Second Coming; faithful witnesses of Christ are ruling with Him in heaven during the age of the Church.

I. It is important to see the structure of the book as a whole—progressive parallelism—and in light of the meaning to the first century believers.

William Hendriksen gives us Revelation’s seven literary units.

Literary Sections of Revelation

Vern-PoythressFor my reading of Revelation, Vern Poythress (pictured left) is a better guide to the application of Revelation for first century believers, than our news media in the twenty-first century. In order to apply the Revelation to our day, we must “bridge the context” from the first century AD to our own.

Dennis E. Johnson rightly points outrevelation-commentary-johnson—”Revelation gave first-century Christians insight into the purposes of God in their time. We can at least conclude, therefore, that interpretations of the visions that lie completely beyond the original readers’ frame of reference are suspect.” (see Johnson, D. E., below.)

II. There are seven cycles of judgment, each ending with the Second Coming.

Visions that describe the Second Coming mark important transitions. When we go to Revelation with this concern in mind, we find descriptions of the Second Coming no less than seven times! There are seven cycles of judgment, each leading up to the Second Coming. A final, eighth vision shows the new Jerusalem, the consummate state on the other side of the Second Coming. (see Poythress, p. 32, below.)

Porthress Cycles of Judgment

The cycles [of Revelation] parallel one another. All cover the same period leading up to the Second Coming. But each cycle does so from its own distinct vantage point. Moreover, later cycles concentrate more and more on the most intense phases of conflict and on the Second Coming itself. We have parallelism of the sections in Revelation, but it is a progressive parallelism—with later sections focusing more on the final judgment.  (see Poythress, below.)

Recapulation Structure of Judgments revised

It makes more sense to see 20:1-15 as the last cycle of judgments, out of a total of 7, beginning at Christ’s First Coming extending to Christ’s Second Coming. (see Poythress, below.)

III. Earlier Commentators held the recapitulation approach to Revelation. 

Victorinus of Pettau wrote the oldest extant Latin commentary on Revelation. He interprets the book’s cycles as Victorinus of Pettaurecapitulations of the same time described above. (pictured right by Jakob Brollo.)

Those years wherein Satan is bound are in the first advent of Christ, even to the end of the age; and they are called a thousand, according to that mode of speaking, wherein a part is signified by the whole, just as is that passage, “the word which He commanded for a thousand generations,” although they are not a thousand. Moreover that he says, “and he cast him into the abyss,” and he shut him up, says he, and put a seal upon him, that he should not deceive the nations until the thousand years should be finished. (see Victorinus of Pettau, Rev. 20:1-3, below.) 

Carlo_Crivelli_-_St._AugustineSt. Augustine of Hippo says the thousand years began with the formation and mission of the New Testament Church.

“Now the devil was thus bound not only when the Church began to be more and more widely extended among the nations beyond Judea, but is now and shall be bound till the end of the world, when he is to be loosed. But while the devil is bound, the saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years, understood in the same way, that is, of the time of His first coming.” (see Augustine of Hippo, below.) 

IV. We must put Revelation 20 into the context of Chapters 12-20.

The enemies of Christ’s Church are presented in the order in which John sees them in his vision (along with images of God’s people interspersed throughout). Revelation does not give visions in chronological order that people on earth will experience them.

Chart on Chiasms in 12-21

I trust it is obvious that I hold to the  so-called “Amillennial view” of Revelation 20. I prefer “realized Millennium,” as Dr. Jay Adams has called it. We believe in a millennium (in heaven, not on the earth). 

Next time we will move into the exposition of the Twentieth chapter.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation) 

Augustine of Hippo. (ca. AD 426). The City of God. Book XX. Chapters 7-9. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120120.htm

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. S. (2000). The Coming King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Victorinus of Pettau. (ca. A.D. 270). Commentary on the Apocalypse. Accessed 13 May 2021 from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 19: The Great “Supper of God”

Revelation 19:17-21

The Great Supper of God, follows the Coming of the Divine Warrior to deal with all rebellion against Him and persecution of His people. These folks destroyed are hardcore opponents of God and His people.

I agree with one pastor who said, “It is the most unnecessary thing in the world that a soul should go to hell.” Jesus says hell was never intended for people. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41 ESV.) God reveals His existence in nature, so none can claim they weren’t told about the existence of God—Romans 1:18-20.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,g in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Matthew 23:37-39 underscores Jesus’ willingness to receive those who respond to His message, the Gospel—

37 “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Many bring up the question, why not give the lost a second chance after they die? Wouldn’t they want to leave hell and go to heaven?


People in Hell would not chose to leave and go to Heaven

[In The Great Divorce] “C. S. Lewis presents [the fictional] concept about the damned having a [vacation], some kind of rest for a moment of time. A bus from heaven comes down to hell and picks up passengers who want on to go and check out heaven to see if they want in or not. As we see, going into the larger space of heaven, when they go on, it is a scary place and much bigger than they expected. They feel naked and very, very insubstantial.”

In the end the “vacationers” board the bus to return to hell. “You will discover in the book, and here is the bottom line, that virtually all of them decide to head back to hell because they really do not like what they see. They are not even in heaven, they are only on the outskirts and the sun has not yet risen. Nowhere in hell is the sun fully dark. It is a twilight.”

Lewis concludes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” (See Boa, below)

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2 ESV)


The theme of Revelation 19:17-21 is
The Judgment of God will come at last upon those who have actively rebelled against God’s laws and ways and who have persecuted His people.

I. The end time battle includes the destruction of all classes of rebellious and unrepentant combatants on the earth. vss. 17-18

vs. 17-18 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.” 

[Prior to the pouring out of the wrath of God in the seven bowls, Christ removes His people to heaven (Rev. 14:1 144,000 symbol of the full complement of God’s people safe and secure).]

The imagery of Revelation 19:17-21 is drawn from Ezekiel 39:17-20—

17 “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. 19 And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. 20 And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord God. (Illustration left: Siege of Tyre 333 B.C. by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899) Public Domain

Armageddon is a macabre scene indeed for opponents of Christ and His people! “This is not…the “supper” of verse 9, but rather a contrast to it; it is that supper which is reserved for the ungodly, at which they form the prey.”  (see Plummer, below.)

As Christians we live between two suppers.

The first supper is the Last Supper of the Lord John 13 (by Giotto c.1304 – c.1306 public domain)

The Second is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (photo of a treasured wedding present that has hung in our different dinning rooms over the years).

Armageddon stands in marked contrast to the marriage feast of the Lamb mentioned earlier. The birds summoned to the supper are the orneon—”the vultures,” carrion birds of prey.

When I was a boy, I heard my Appalachian forebears talking of something smelling like “kyarn” (click on word for audio pronunciation if you’ve never heard it before). It is an eliding of letters from “carrion.” It is a “de-comp” “road-kill” odor (to be polite) [see “The Blind Pig and the Acorn” Blog, below]. Can you imagine the stench of this carrion battlefield when the birds are drawn in to clean it up.

“Supper” is the same word as “feast”—deipnon (a formal banquet). Instead of a banquet spread for people, the people are spread for the vultures. “This is a bold and powerful picture of the battlefield after the victory of the Messiah, ‘a sacrificial feast spread on God’s table for all the vultures of the sky.’ The evil spirits, watching over fallen Rome like night-birds or harpies that wait for their prey, build their aeries [nesting places] in the broken towers which rise from the ashes of the city” (see H. B. Swete below). This was true long ago of Babylon; Nineveh, and Tyre; it was true of Rome, and will be true in the future city of the end-time Babylon.

This is John’s description of the effects of Armageddon (further described in Revelation 20). Remember, last time I pointed out that in Revelation 12-21 John introduces God’s people and their reward; and then He introduces the evil figures in one order, and then records their destruction in reverse order. I post the chart below as an aid to memory. The literary structure gives us the flow of visions, but does not necessarily give us the indication of chronological fulfillment. The first century Church would have viewed these visions as true of Rome. Each generation has its own “Babylon,” controlled by Satan and dominating people for selfish gain; for example: Examples in the past include: Napoleon’s empire; the Ottoman empire; the Prussian empire; Kaiser Willem’s attempt at empire during WWI; Hitler’s and Mussolini’s imperial aspirations during WWII; Stalin’s imperial pretensions during the “cold war,” etc.

II. The end time battle includes the destruction of Antichrist. vs. 19

vs. 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. 

This is the latest incarnation of “Antichrist” and his coalition arrayed against Christ at the battle of Armageddon. I say latest because different anti-Christian figures have been put into place over the ages. The same spirit that animates Antichrist in the end inhabits the different anti-Christian figures throughout time.

III. The end time battle includes the destruction of the False Prophet—false religion with its perverse culture. vs. 20

vs. 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. 

Here we have the beast from the sea of chapter 13 further identified. The first is antichrist and the second beast is called “the false prophet.” The False Prophet is heretical religion and culture that aids antichrist in his dominion. They are both seized—piazō.” The word “deluded” is planaō from which we derive the English word “planet” (wandering heavenly bodies in the sky)“to cause to wander from something (the truth)—which means to “deceive. The lake of fire” is a reference to hell—gehenna. Literally, it means “Land of Hinnom”—a reference to the “garbage dump” of Jerusalem where fires burned dead carcasses and garbage constantly. So, Hell is the garbage dump of lost angels and humanity. It lies outside the dimension of our Cosmos. (And does not lie at the center of the earth.)

Ancient topography of First Century Jerusalem. (https://www.israel-a-history-of.com/jerusalem-history.html)

IV. The end time battle includes the destruction of all non-combatants who formed Antichrist’s support services. vs. 21

vs. 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.

Some might think, “I’m not rich, and I am not in a high position. I am not a soldier in the army arrayed against God an His people. This won’t apply to me.” After the leaders are cleared from the battlefield in verses 17-18, “all the rest” are destroyed in verse 21. Many do not take an active role in fighting, but they are a part of Antichrist’s support system  behind the scenes.


In Nazi Germany, the Gestapo numbered 16,000 and the population numbered 66 million. You may ask how could 10,000 policeman control the entire country. (see McDonough, below.)  They did it by using informants and fear of being caught imprisoned and tortured.

How about the Holocaust? The SS did the killing, but civilians also were complicit. See the short film clip (1 min. 6 secs.) below for the range of civilians it took to operate the killing machine. (Of course, I am not disparaging the German people today.) 


Christ does not need to use force against His foes (unlike Antichrist). He merely speaks the Word and his enemies are destroyed. “The contrast between the assembling of the beast’s might with his kings and their soldiers and the ease with which he is overthrown and captured highlight the beast’s powerlessness before his mighty Conqueror.” (see Johnson, A. F., below) Although the force is arrayed, no real battle is fought as we conceive of battles. Christ slays them with the words from his mouth just like he created the world with His spoken word (Genesis 1).

Next time we will begin Chapter 20.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Blind Pig and Acorn. (2014). “Something Smells Bad.” Blog. Accessed 24 April 2021 at https://blindpigandtheacorn.com/something-smells-bad/

Boa, K. (2021). The Great Doivorce. A book review. Accessed 30 April 2021 from https://bible.org/article/great-divorce

Collaboration. (n.d.). “German collaboration and complicity.” Accessed 1 May 2021 from https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/resistance-responses-collaboration/german-collaboration-and-complicity/informants/

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

McDonough, F. (2015). “Careless whispers: how the German public used and abused the Gestapo.” Accessed 1 May 2021 from https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/careless-whispers-how-the-german-public-used-and-abused-the-gestapo-1.2369837

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Plummer, A. (1909). Exposition of Revelation in the Pulpit Commentary series (New York: NY: Funk and Wagnells Co.

Swete, H. B. (1917). The Apocalypse of St. John: the Greek Text with Introduction, Notes and Indices. (London, UK: MacMillian & Co. Ltd.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 19 The Second Coming of Christ!

Revelation 19:11-16

Image from WikiMedia Commons; “The Rider on White Horse” early 14th century; British Library digital collections. Public Domain.

We often assume events and persons are given in chronological order, but John often presents events and persons in a literary order, not in chronological order (see Poythress, below). 

Chart on Chiasms in 12-21

“The most transparent use of the divine-warrior motif in the book of Revelation is 19:11–21.” (see Longman and Reed, p. 146, below.)

The theme of Revelation 19:11-16 is
Jesus Christ, The Divine Warrior, will bring justice for His people and punishment to His enemies in the end!

I. The Divine Warrior (Jesus Christ) will enforce His victory, which was already won on Calvary, at the end.

vs. 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.

The victorious conqueror rode into his city seated on a white horse in Bible times. This image was used once before in Rev. 6:1. There it was symbolic of conquest that leads to war. The rider had a victor’s crown (Greek is stephanos) on his head. (image left is a stephanos a few branches of laurel bush intertwined and given to the winner of an athletic contest.) Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. (See Wikipedia under laurel wreath.)

The figure on a white horse in Rev. 19 is Christ. He wears a diadem (in Greek diadēma)—the crown of a King. It could be made of linen like a band around the forehead. (Image right is by Wolfgang Sauber; Diadem. Gold. Greek, probably made in Alexandria, Egypt, 220 – 100 B.C.)

Christ is described as “faithful and true.” “True” is alēthinos (-inos ending means “made up of
something). It means that which is genuine in contrast to that which is false, e.g. Rome and its made-up narrative. The verbs “judges” and “makes war” are present tense stressing the fact that this is Christ’s permanent character. Most men and nations allow passion to flare out against someone. This leads to war and vengeance. Christ is not like this. He wars from a steeled disposition of justice. The image of the warrior messiah is taken from Psalms 45:3-5—

3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.

Dante’s words over the entrance to hell.

III. The Divine Warrior will not permit evil empires and persons to escape.

vs. 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. 

The first image connects this with the vision in chapter 1:14. Christ’s view of things is all-searching.

The reference to a “name that no one knows” means that Christ cannot be fully grasped by finite beings. There will always be mystery when it comes to God. We know him only through revelation. Often in surrounding cultures, secret names of idols were used to get favor or fortune. If a person knew that secret name, they could use it to get what they wanted. This is often called “name magic.” In the ancient world, a god’s name was a means for manipulating him/her. Knowledge of the god’s name meant shared power. The fact that he will share that name with his people means that his people will share his rule.

vs. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God

This imagery is drawn from Isaiah 63:1-3—

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the wine press? 3 “I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.

There are two possibilities for the source of the blood stains on Christ’s clothing: (1) the blood of his enemies; (2) his own blood. It seems best to see the source of the blood coming from his enemies. The fluidity of apocalyptic allows for blood from battle on garments before the battle has been commenced. He is further described as the Word of God. The Greek word is logos—”God in action, in creation, in revelation, and in the redemption of his people” (see Bruce, below). This word ties the Revelation to the other Johanine writings. It most certainly validates the fact that Revelation is the product of the Apostle John as tradition holds.

Dante’s etching of defeated cast into hell.

vs. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 

A favorite name for the Lord in the Old Testament is Yahweh Sebaoth—Lord of Armies. Several suggestions have been made as to who makes up the army—(1) a human army; (2) an army of angels; (3) the stars and heavenly bodies; (4) the sum total of all created beings. Gerhardus Vos, suggests that the army is made up of angels (see Vos, pg. 243,  below). The fact that the army rides horses like Christ and they wear what he wears has lead many to conclude that the army is made up of redeemed humans, rather than angels. In any case, the riders of the other horses share in Christ’s victory. It does not matter whether they are angels or humans. They do not fight the battle. Christ alone does this.

Barbarian Swords were long; Roman sword was short for close combat.- circa 1754: Charles Martel (1688-1741) ‘The Hammer’ using a battle axe while repulsing the Moors at the Battle of Tours, near Poitiers, 732. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

vs. 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 wine-press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 

The sword out of Christ’s mouth is the rhomphaia—the large broad sword of the foreign hordes which surrounded the Roman empire. Just as the Lord created the world with his powerful word, he also destroys his enemies with that same powerful word. John quotes Psalm 2:9—”You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The word “rule” is poimainō—“to shepherd.” The reference to treading the wine press is an allusion again to Isaiah 63:1-3 (see the quotation above). His name indicates that he is Absolute King of everything in this universe.

The Rider on a White Horse (early_14th_Cent.)

IV. The Divine Warrior will enforce His rule over all His enemies.

vs. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

The name on the thigh is significant since this was the usual spot to carry one’s sword (Exodus 32:27) and to place one’s hand when swearing an oath (Genesis 24:2-3; 24:9; Genesis 47:29). (see Beale, p. 414, below.)

“King of kings and Lord of lords” is a title that indicates One who is over every other royal person on earth or in hell.

Next time we will proceed to the Feast of Vultures feeding on the corpses from Armageddon.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Gospel and the Epistles of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Longman,T; and  Reid, D. G. (1995). God Is a Warrior (Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology Series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

Vos, G. (1934). Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. Philadelphia, PA: Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

 

Revelation 19—Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb

Revelation 19:6-10

Image above accessed 15 April 2021 at https://www.slideshare.net/newlifebiblechapel/wedding-of-the-lamb-3108966

I pointed out in the last post that Revelation 19:1-5 seems more like a closing of Chapter 18 than a beginning of chapter 18. However, the relationships of events within the chapter are compelling for it also to be a part of chapter 19.

Note with me the destruction of the scarlet prostitute (vss. 1-5) contrasts with the Second Coming of Christ (vss. 11-16 as the red indicates on the chart below). And the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (vvs. 6-10) contrasts with the Carrion feast of the birds who feed on the bodies of those killed at the the Battle of Armageddon (vss. 17-21) as the blue indicates on the chart below.

In this post I want to deal with the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

First Century believers would be encouraged by this invitation. They were left out of many regal events in Rome’s social life. They will hereafter share in the feast since believers form the Bride of Christ, the Bridegroom. They would see how they would be at the very heart of the celebration with Christ! Alienated no more in heaven, they will rejoice now in their worship over their being with Christ in glory after this life.

The theme of these verses is—

We are betrothed to Christ, and we must continue faithful to Him until He comes for us.

I. The Bridegroom will return for His Bride though the waiting should now seem long.

vs. 6 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.”

The verb ” reign” is in the past tense in the Greek—For the Lord God Almighty reigned. This is a specialized use of the past tense in Greek—the ingressive = “begun to reign.” We should translate this phrase: “For the Lord God
Almighty has begun to reign.” Christ returns to earth to drive all enemy combatants from the field of battle. The Greek for “Almighty ” (pantakrator) the one who has unrestricted power exercising absolute dominion. It is the Old Testament Greek Translation (the Septuagint = LXX) equivalent of the Hebrew Lord of Armies (Yahweh Sebaoth). (see Biblehub, below.)

Image above left is by Jan Henryk Rosen, Christ Pantocrator, Washington, DC; it is in the ceiling of the apse. “Christ is watching over His own.” (image from Wikipedia.)

The Hagia Sophia has been turned into a mosque again recently. In Byzantine era, it was the largest Church in Christendom. It fell to the Muslim invasion in 1453 and was made into a mosque. Under the reign of Sultan Suleiman I, the Christian mosaics and frescoes were plastered over. The same happened in Greek Orthodox Churches after Turkish invasion of all of Greece. When the country was liberated in the 20th Century, the plaster was removed and Christ Pantokrator was still there. He had been watching over His own even though no one could see His image under the plaster. 

Jesus Christ, as Pantakrator, has always reigned earth from Heaven. This phrase serves to emphasize Christ will come in great glory and the earth will be filled with it.

vs. 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;

II. Our Bridegroom has provided all we need to be with Him for all eternity.

vs. 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.

Wedding imagery is used often in the Bible to describe what the kingdom of God is going to be like when it comes on the earth. Matthew 22:1-3

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

The Old Testament frequently uses the image of marriage to describe Yahweh’s relationship to his people. Hosea 2:19—And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.

Isaiah 54:5—For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

The Bride’s white linen is in marked contrast to the purple garments of the prostitute. Johnson points out that linen was an expensive cloth in the ancient world that was used to make the garments of priests and royalty. White indicates both cleanness and brightness. Note the balance of the Biblical statements concerning the Bride’s garments. They are given to her and she made herself ready. This indicates that righteousness is not meritorious, it is a gift, and she has kept herself pure. Compare Matthew 22:2,11-14—

2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son… .11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Bible Customs versus Modern “Brides Maid’s Dresses and Groomsmen Tux Rentals”

The wedding garments were always supplied by the host, so the man in the parable had no excuse for not having one on. He either refused to put it on initially, or had soiled the one he had been given and had taken it off. Either way, he had not responded correctly to the invitation of the King. “Righteous acts (dikaiomata) are not meritorious works that lead to salvation. Good works are the result of being in a right relationship with the Lord.

Biblical and un-Biblical views of Righteousness

Faith + Works = Justification (Works-righteousness is an un-Biblical view)

Faith = Justification with no works afterward (Anti-nomianism is also an un-Biblical view) 

Faith = Justification + Works (is the Biblical view)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The difference between these views is where we put works. In the un-Biblical views faith and works either are a requirement for justification or superfluous to justification. In the biblical view works flow from a right relationship with God. All the works to earn salvation were supplied by Christ in His active obedience to God and His law.

My professor of ethics at RTS, R. C. Sproul,  said this about righteousness in salvation—

Righteousness involved in justification [being declared to be in right standing with God] is always an “iustitia alienus“—an alien righteousness. A righteousness that’s “extra nos” [ouside of us]—a righteousness that’s apart from me, [is] not mine inherently. It belongs to Christ. And what Christ does is when I put my trust in Him, He imputes or counts to me His righteousness. And on the basis of that imputed righteousness, God declares me just right now. So that if I die right now, I go heaven right now because I’ve all the righteousness I will ever need to get there, namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s good news. (see Sproul, below.) 

III. Now is the time to live in light of Christ’s invitation to be His Bride.

vs. 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.” 

The second step for the coming of the kingdom of God on earth is the marriage of the Lamb. The event which will inaugurate the marriage is the marriage feast of the Lamb. Old Testament marriage customs are in view here. There were three steps to marriage—

Engagement (contract agreed on) Image from YouTube

Step #1 Engagement—a contract between families for the two young persons (often made when the young mere children).

Betrothal (waiting) Image from YouTube

Step #2 Betrothal—a 9 month to 1 year period of waiting to prove the purity of the Bride (entered into when the groom reached marriageable age). The bride remained in her home doing what ever work she usually did.

Wedding Feast (consummation) Image from YouTube

Step #3 Wedding Feast—takes place at the groom’s home (the only ceremony that took place), and then afterwards they began their life together).

IV. We must steer clear of worshiping anyone or anything but Christ.

vs. 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.

This verse may be an allusion to the tendency in the early church for gnostics to worship angels. Gnostics were an exclusive group that said salvation comes by receiving a special, secret knowledge that only our group can give to those initiated into our group. Colossians 2:18-19 alludes to an early Gnosticism that threatened the Church—

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Hebrews 1:13-14 gives us a proper view of angels—

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

The angel rebukes John for even giving the appearance that he was worshiping an angel. God alone is entitled to worship! The angel is describes himself as the fellow servant or slave (sundoulos) together with John.

Let us take fresh courage to live out our loyalty to Christ in light of what awaits us in glory!

We will move on in the next post to the Second Coming of Christ.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

BibleHub. (2021). Panakrator, G-3841. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/3841.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sproul, R. C. (2019). “An Alien Righteousness.” a Ligonier resource. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/alien-righteousness/

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 19: Heaven’s rejoicing in anticipation of Christ’s Coming

Revelation 19:1-5

Image above is from Pinterest. “Babylon’s Fall” by John Martin 1789–1854. Public Domain.

Chapter 19 as a Whole

Verses 1-5 seem to close chapter 18 rather than begin chapter 19. They are a thanksgiving for the destruction of Babylon—the trans-temporal symbol of Satan’s dominion in this world and Antichrist’s end time evil empire that engulfs the entire globe.

“John hears the response of heaven’s residents to the invitation in Revelation 18:20“—Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (see Johnson, D. E. below.)

There are three major events in chapter 19—
1. The Invitation to the Marriage-Feast of the Lamb
2. The Second Coming of Christ
3. The Battle of Armageddon/Carrion-Feast of the Birds

The theme of Revelation 19:1-5 is—God’s people will see His righteous vengeance displayed at the end.

I. Our God is a God of deliverance of His people from danger and threats to their safety and well-being.

vs. 1 After 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…


John Paton (1824-1907; pictured left) was a [Scottish] missionary in the New Hebrides Islands [South Pacific]. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present, but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. (see Today in the Word, below.)


Vagrants might be persons without any means of support, but God’s people are beloved people of God who gives them invisible means of support! See II Kings 6—

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

“After this” is literally “after these things” (the same phrase that occurs in Rev. 1:19 meta tauta). This phrase indicates movement in the visions, but not necessarily movement in time of fulfillment.

This is important in interpreting chapters 16-19. Some of the visions are not chronological. There are sections that retrace past events for the purpose of explanation. The “multitude” is not identified. It seems to be, however, a multitude of angels. “Hallelujah” is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated into English. It means “praise Yahweh” or “praise the Lord.” This is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. The three attributes mentioned are said to “belong to God.” They are demonstrated in all that he does to save his people—in the physical and spiritual sense of “salvation.”

“Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven”
by de Gustave Doré; Public Domain

Salvation is “God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. It has multiple ideas such as: welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, salvation, safety.” (see sōtēria, below.)

Glory is doxa—from which we derive our English word doxology. Doxa means honor, renown; glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor. (see doxa, below.)

Power is dunamis from which we derive the English word dynamite. (see dunamis, below.)

This paean of praise brings to mind the Lord’s Prayer given in the Gospels. (see Ellicott, below.) For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:13). Our Lord is at the center of Heaven’s praise, and this should move us to do the same here on earth.

II. Our God’s judgment involves righteous vengeance for evil done to His people.

vs. 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.”

Amusement Park in Pripyat before (1980s) and 34 years after the Chernobyl disaster
from https://www.bcd-urbex.com/pripyat-then-and-now/

The photographs above show how quickly a city once vibrant with 50,000 persons can fall into disuse after 34 years. This is certainly true of Imperial Cities all through history. 

“Judgment” in Greek is krisis. The –sis ending on the word indicates that the act of final judgment is in view, not simply a temporal pronouncement in a human court.

The great prostitute is John’s symbol for Dragon’s trans-temporal empire and its ungodly culture and religion. At this point in Revelation, Babylon has already fallen. The word “who” is the indefinite relative pronoun in Greek. Its use is qualitative—”this is the very one who corrupted the earth… . ”

vs. 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

Isaiah 34:8-10 seems to be the basis for John’s image here—

8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch.
10  Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.

III. Angels validate God’s righteous judgment in their praises.

vs. 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!”

At this point, the 24 elders mentioned in chapter 4 join in the praise of the Lord. They are an order of angels.

IV. Our God calls upon all His people to praise Him for His righteous judgment.

vs. 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”

Everyone is included in this call to worship. Alan F. Johnson says that “all socioeconomic distinctions are transcended in the united worship of the church… .” They will be in the great day of Christ’s Second Coming, for sure. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, once had a dream. She said she saw people rising from earth to enter into heaven. Only as they rose all man-made labels fell off.

However, we might add, that such distinctions ought to be transcended now, also. This entire passage with its hallelujahs seems to be based upon Psalm 113-118 known as the Great Hallel.

(1) God’s servants (doulos—literally “slaves”) Psalm 113:1—Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!

(2) God-fearers (phobeomai) Psalm 115:12-13—12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; 13 he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.

(3) Small ones (mikros)

God’s judgment doesn’t always come quickly, but it certainly does come!

Next time, we will look at the marriage feast of the lamb.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Doxa. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1391.htm

Dunamis. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1411.htm

Ellicott, J. C. (1878). Commentary for English Readers. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/19-1.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sōtēria. (2021). Bible Hub; Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/4991.htm

Today in the Word. (1991). “Missionary Story.” Accessed 7 April 2021 from https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/1534/missionary-story/

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18: Rejoicing over Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:20-24

Image above: “Fall of the Tower of Babel,” by Cornelis Anthonisz, 1547 public domain.

Chapter 18 contains rejoicing by various groups over the destruction
which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

  • Inhabitants of Heaven (Angels and the Righteous Dead?)
  • Saints
  • Apostles
  • Prophets

This call to rejoice in Revelation seems to have Jeremiah 51:48 as its background. “Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will shout for joy over Babylon” (see Fee, G. D. p. 259, below).

Revelation 18:20-24 gives believers reasons to rejoice over the destruction of Satan’s empire that rules the earth. 

I. God has answered the prayers of His people for vengeance by judging Babylon. vs. 20

vs. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”

Note that the earth-dwellers mourn over the city’s destruction, but those in the heavens are told to rejoice over her destruction. It depends upon one’s attitude toward the Lord and his people whether one rejoices or mourns over the destruction of Babylon.

“Ancient Babylon fell in one night after having been “weighed in the balance and found wanting.” [Daniel 5:30]. Can modern empires fall just as quickly? History and the Bible provide an answer. The nations may “rage” and the rulers “take counsel together” (Psalm 2:1-2), but unless their actions are in accord with the counsel of God, in the end they will pass from the world scene.” (see McNeely, blow.) 

https://rickbarbarebiblestudies.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/159a8-1_eklkkgw222knxjhgkff7q.jpeg

Mystery, Babylon the Great, Part 1 blog post by Colin MacIntyre

II. God will erase Babylon’s dominion once and for all. vs 21.

vs. 21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more;

Jeremiah 51:60-64 seems to be the background to John’s vision in verse 21.

60 Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon.
61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words,
62 and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’
63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates,
64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’”

This verse records a parable. “One quick gesture becomes a parable of the whole judgment on Babylon the Great! Suddenly she is gone forever… .” (See Johnson A. F., p.752 below.)

A millstone is 4 to 5 feet in diameter, one foot thick and hundreds of pounds in weight. The city seemed to be permanent, but at the end it proves to be easy for the Lord to overthrow it. John uses the double negative (ou me literally—”not never,” or more correctly—”by no means”) to demonstrate the finality of Babylon’s ruin.

III. God’s Judgment means there Babylon will no longer have economic incentives to draw people from God.

candle, Burning, Fire, Light, Smoke, HQ Photo

 

vs. 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more…

John again uses the double negative (ou mē) three times in this verse—”the sound of the harpists … will by no means ever be heard in you again; workmen will by no means ever be found in you again; the sound of a millstone will by no means ever be heard in you again.”

vs. 23 …and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.

Note the use of trade with Babylon as the means of drawing men into her web of deceit. How could we in the 21st Century get further into the morass of Babylon through trade than we are? Alexandr Solzhenitsyn offers a profound insight into our world which is so interwoven into Babylon’s agenda. Whether this is the last manifestation of Babylon, only God knows.

Alexandr Solzenhenitsyn“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child (born 1 December 1918), I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

“Only once in [the 20th century] did the West gather strength — for the battle against Hitler. But the fruits of that victory have long since been lost. Faced with cannibalism, our godless age has discovered the perfect anesthetic — trade! Such is the pathetic pinnacle of contemporary wisdom… .

“To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate 20th century and our hands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.” (see Solzhenitsyn, below).

Fantasy witch wizard woman using enchanting magical elixir potion bottle for love spell, witchcraft and divination. magic illustration and alchemy Premium Photo

Fantasy witch wizard woman using enchanting magical
elixir potion bottle
for love spell, witchcraft
and divination. Freepik photo

“Which is the dragon’s more dangerous weapon as he assaults the church in our time and place: Is it the beast, symbolic of [1] the state’s power to intimidate through violent persecution and even martyrdom? Or the beauty, the harlot, portrait of [2] the culture’s power to seduce through the intoxicating idolatry of prosperity and the alluring invitation to adulterous compromise?” (see Johnson, D. E., below).

John uses the double negative (ou mē) twice in this verse. This is the picture of desolation. “The melancholy recollection of the pulsing life that once filled this great city with the joy of life sounds through these verses ‘like footsteps dying away in the distance in a desolate city which lies in ruins.'” (see Johnson, A. F., below) The word “sorcery” is the Greek word pharmakeia—the use of drugs to cast spells. Empires have always used mind altering substances/thinking to content the masses. It isn’t religion that is the opiate of the people!


Richard Cory
By Edwin Arlington Robinson (1897)

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.


Babylon is an illusion and one who pins his hope on its charms and allurements will be quickly disillusioned.

IV. God remembers righteous blood shed and forgotten by men. vs. 24

vs. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”

The life of God’s people is not always stress free. It is always blessed by God, however.

The word “slain” (sphazō) is the word which means “to slaughter or murder.” It fits in with the idea of martyrdom that is implied in this verse.

It’s a question of what works with Babylon’s power—the carrot or the stick?

Next time, we will move into chapter 19!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Fee, G. D. (2010). Revelation (New Covenant Commentary). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock publishers.

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

McNeely, D. (2010). “The Decline and Fall of Nations: A Prophetic Perspective.” accessed 2 April 2020 from https://www.ucg.org/world-news-and-prophecy/the-decline-and-fall-of-nations-a-prophetic-perspective

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Solzhenitsyn, A. (1983). “Men Have Forgotten God.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Templeton Address. Accessed 3 April 2021 from https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/aleksandr-solzhenitsyn-men-have-forgotten-god-speech/

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Revelation 18 Lamentation Over Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:9-19

Image above: The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675), as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666; public domain image.

As we saw previously—

Chapter 18 contains lamentation by merchants of trade over the destruction which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

Note that the four groups mourn in verses 9-19, but they mourn over their own personal loss  and not over the city’s destruction.

Group 1: The Kings of the earth Rev. 18:9-10
Group 2: The merchants of the earth 18:11-15
Group 3: Roman merchants Rev. 18:16-17

Group 4: Those involved in the sea trade Rev. 18-19

If we want to see who’s sad over the fall of Babylon, follow the money

I. Rulers of nations of the earth profit through trade with Babylon. vs. 9

vs. 9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.

Psalm 2:1-3 pictures the rebellious attitude of the woman and the kings of the earth.

1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

II. The swiftness of destruction shocks earth-dwellers. vs. 10

vs. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

Jonn begins his sentence with an adverb (makrothen) “from far away or from a distance.” The rulers of the end time will stand at a distance and view the destruction of Antichrist’s empire. They enjoyed the luxury Babylon provided, but when she is destroyed, they will be helpless to come to her aid. The NIV takes “The Great City” as a vocative—”O Great City.” John uses the dative of time to show the point in time that the judgment occurred—in one hour’s time. In other words, what took centuries to build is destroyed by God in one hour.

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)
Public Domain Image from WikiPedia.

III. Fortunes built on the back of the slave trade (or human trafficking) is ill-gotten gain and will ultimately be destroyed. vss. 11-13 

vs. 11-13 11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

As John describes the merchandise, he obviously has Ezekiel 27 in mind and pens the lament in Rev. 18—
Ezek. 27:13 13 “Javan, Tubal, and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged human beings and vessels of bronze for your merchandise.”

Note that part of the trade involves “the bodies and souls of men.” “Bodies” is a Greek idiom for slaves (cf. LXX of Gen. 36:6), while the addition of “souls of men”means “slaves, that is, human beings.” See Johnson, A.F., p. 752, below.)  

Slave Market in Constantinople

Illustration of a slave market in Constantinople (now Istanbul),
the capital of the Ottoman Empire. public domain image.

“Slavery was an ever-present feature of the Roman world. Slaves served in households, agriculture, mines, the military, manufacturing workshops, construction and a wide range of services within the city. As many as 1 in 3 of the population in Italy or 1 in 5 across the empire were slaves and upon this foundation of forced labor was built the entire edifice of the Roman state and society.” (see Cartwright, below.)

“The merchants in Revelation find it profitable to traffic in human beings (18:13), but John identifies the slave trade with commercial practices that fall under the judgment of God… . People found the prospect of wealth alluring, but by making the sale of human beings the climactic element in his list of trade goods, John underscores the seamy side of Roman-era commerce.” (See Koester, p. 767, below.)

Our world is no stranger to the slave trade, thought it might be called “human trafficking.”

human-traffickingThe modern world is also full of the buying and selling of human beings. “Human trafficking is defined as forcing, fooling, or frightening someone into performing labor or sex for personal profit” (see Elkins, below).

It a common practice for bar codes to be tattooed on a sex worker’s or a commercial slave’s body signifying the person belongs to someone who is using him or her for business. This gives the impression that a person is a commodity just like any other personal property one has—chattel. 

The services of women as massage workers is often advertised on Craigslist and Backpage. The ads “promises regularly rotating women” from one massage parlor to another. Police officers in North Carolina watched one “business” for over a month and frequently reported women being picked up or dropped off in cars with New York tags. (see Elkins below). 

A secret and underground trade of human beings is similar to the USSR’s Gulag Archipelago. “The word Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of labor camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending” from sea to sea.” This is what happens with sex or commercial workers are moved often to keep anonymity of the forced laborers and the system itself off the radar of local police. (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, below). 

“An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labor, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.”

Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:

$99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
$34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
$9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
$8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor (see Human Rights First, below).


Thomas Jefferson, who was a slave owner, said this about slavery—

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” (see, Jefferson Quotation, below.)


What bothers me, as one who has had a complete tour of all floors of Monticello, is that Jefferson did nothing to prevent his guests from preying on the slave women on the grounds. (See Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson. Random House. November 19, 2008. I commend the book to you, I read biographies about post-presidencies.) 

vs. 14 “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!”

In this verse John uses the triple negative—no longer not never (ouketi ou me). In English, negatives cancel each other out. However, in Greek negatives pile up to strengthen each other. 

vs. 15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!

These verses relay virtually the same information as Rev. 18:10.

vss. 17-19 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all ship masters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste.

With this verse the last of the groups of mourners are introduced—the seafaring traders. This is John’s description of every despotic empire and Antichrist’s end time empire, as ultimate fulfillment. This is the third time that the time frame of the destruction is mentioned—one hour.

We as God’s people should take courage! 

Angel of the Lords Armies

Image from Pinterest

Next time we will move to the ones rejoicing over the fall of Babylon.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Cartwright, M. (2013, November 01). Slavery in the Roman World. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/629/

Elkins, T. (2017). “Human trafficking: a problem close to home.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from http://campbelllawobserver.com/human-trafficking-a-problem-close-to-home/#prettyPhoto

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021). “The Gulag Archipelago.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Gulag-Archipelago

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Human Rights First. (2017). “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: Facts Sheet. Accessed 27 March 2021 from https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/sites/default/files/TraffickingbytheNumbers.pdf

Jefferson Quotation. Excerpted from multiple sources: “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” “Notes on the State of Virginia,” “The Autobiography,” letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Koester, C. (2008). “Roman Slave Trade and the Critique of Babylon in Revelation 18.” Accessed 22 March 2021 at https://digitalcommons.luthersem.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=faculty_articles

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved