Revelation #13 : The return of the king chapter 19
sermon Revelation 19 : Pierre Constant, 2022_10_23, AB Lausanne church
title : Revelation #13 : The return of the king chapter 19
Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Revelation 17.5), however great she may have been
being, is now destroyed, fallen, stripped, laid bare, devoured, and burned with fire (17.16).
The kings of the land, the merchants of the land, the pilots, coasters, sailors, laborers of the sea all cried
their despair, because they had been drunk with the wine of her debauchery, because they had participated with her and
had believed themselves strong, immortal, invincible, in their thirst for power and their endless commercialism. Their madness
was their downfall.
Now is the time when there is no more time, there is “no more delay,” as the angel had announced.
standing on land and sea (Rev. 10:6-7).
Revelation 19 accomplishes two things:
• it resumes the fall of Babylon (19.1-11), itself being subdivided into two parts (under the angle of
two women) :
o the judgment of the great harlot (vv. 1-4),
o and the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb with his bride (vv. 5-11).
• This chapter then presents the return of the King (19.11-21), again from two angles:
o the victory of the King of kings accompanied by the celestial armies (vv. 11-16),
o and the complete and utter defeat of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth and their
armies (vv. 17-21).
This chapter is actually a flash, a quick snapshot of what will be covered in more detail in chapters 20–22.
Let us remember that apocalyptic literature is very rarely chronological; rather it works by
sequence of images, similar to a movie trailer.
A. The fall of Babylon (19.1-10)
a) The judgment of the great harlot (19:1-4)
John resumes here, in a few verses, the two previous chapters: the fall of Babylon the great.
has. Although John briefly mentions the judgment of the great harlot (vv. 2-3), the fall of Babylon
is evoked from a particular angle: from the angle of the judgments of God. If “salvation, glory and power
belong to our God,” it is because of his judgments (v. 1), because his judgments are true and just.
(v. 2). We can speak of God’s judgments from two different perspectives:
• the perspective of suffering inflicted on human beings, the beast and the false prophet. Seen under this
angle, the judgments of God will always appear unjust to us;
• the perspective of the righteousness of God being fulfilled, because of his holiness and in response to the injustice of
his creatures. Seen from this angle, the judgments of God will always appear to be just, because
they are emanating from a just, creator, omniscient, and the thrice holy God.
The Bible never delights in human suffering, neither in the OT prophets nor in Revelation.
Even the most bloodthirsty depictions of God’s judgments (and we have seen examples of this in
Revelation 14, just as there is another at the end of chapter 19 of Revelation) are never
intended to arouse the hatred or vengeance of the people of God; on the contrary, they are rather the holiness of God,
divine disgust at all that is unjust, and the need for ultimate justice to be done, which stand at the
heart of his judgments.
b. The great harlot is judged in response to two sins in particular (v. 2):
• his first sin was to corrupt the earth by his misconduct (his debauchery), a term to be taken in the
spiritual sense of idolatry, of raising oneself to the rank of God, of determining for oneself what is good and
what is evil, and to draw the world after it (discussed in 14.8, described at length in Revelation 18,
and summarized in 18.23);
• his second sin was to shed the blood of the saints, a truth already mentioned a few times:
o the judgment of the third bowl (rivers and springs of water turned to blood) is in response to
having “shed the blood of saints and prophets” (16.6)
o Babylon is described as being “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus”
o this sin is finally mentioned again in 18.24 (“the blood of the prophets was found in you and of the saints and of all those who have been slaughtered on earth,” an expression which seen in Apoc 6.9-10).
Finally, this judgment exercised against the great prostitute is surrounded on both sides by heavenly praises
which give glory to God: Alleluia (19.1, 3, 4). The judgments of God, which appear to be
deeply unjust in human eyes, are really “true and just” (v. 2). We are
so rooted in our own injustice, so self-centered, obsessed with our
self-centeredness, bewitched under the spell of our sins, that we cry out for injustice when the only righteous God
exercises his justice.
In contemporary objections to the doctrine of the last judgment, or judgments
much more exclusive attention is given to human suffering than to the holiness and justice of God. Without reveling in human suffering, without falling into a Gospel entirely directed towards the
judgment, we cannot pass over the judgment of God in silence, under the pretext that it questions our
feeling of injustice. God is holy and just, and his judgments are true and just. Deny or diminish the
reality of God’s judgment and we reject or restrict the holiness of God, we disavow divine truth
as for the deep immorality of our sins, we ignore the love of Christ manifested on the cross, we
take lightly the vicarial (sustaining) scope of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The marriage of the Lamb with his bride (19.5-10)
God has established his kingdom! After the call of a voice from the throne, it is the voice of a large crowd
(parallel to that of v. 1) which acclaims God, this time not for his true and just judgments, but for
which the Lord God, the Almighty, has established his reign.
• In a way, God currently rules. God directs human destinies, and nothing escapes
under his control. The present world exists by the power and by the will of God (cf. Rev. 4:11).
• But on the other hand, the Apocalypse also presents a final, absolute reign, where there will no longer exist any
resistance to the authority and majesty of God. It is this kingdom that is in question here. And this kingdom is presented here
using a new title: the wedding feast of the Lamb. After the judgment of Babylon the great, the mother of
harlots and abominations of the earth (17.5), we have here the mention of another woman,
the Lamb’s bride, clothed in fine linen, bright and pure.
We have already noted the fact that in apocalyptic literature the meaning of symbols is given
sometimes immediately, sometimes a little further in the text, sometimes even further, and sometimes not at all.
We have a case here where the meaning of a symbol is given immediately: “The fine linen is the works
righteous of saints” (v. 8).
• John certainly does not mean salvation based on our works; he has already mentioned to more than one
recovery that our salvation rests on the work of Jesus, on his death on the cross. Deliverance from our sins
given to us “by his blood” (Revelation 1.5 b). The saints defeated the great dragon, the ancient serpent,
called the devil and Satan, the accuser of our brethren, “because of the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 12:11), an
unequivocal reference to the expiatory and propitiatory death of Jesus on the cross. The King of kings is
“clad in a robe soaked in blood” (19.13).
• If his wife has prepared herself (v. 7), it is because it has been given to her (the verb is in the passive, indicating that
given to her by God, no doubt) to clothe herself with righteous works, when she is already
the bride of Christ. It is not these works that make her the wife, but it is the works that she
is clothed with the fact that she is the bride. It is because they have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb that
members of God’s people were able to overcome the devil, that they were able to persevere in their testimony
towards the person of Jesus.
As much as angels have an important role in apocalyptic literature, so the teaching of
the Apocalypse remains faithful to the teaching of Jesus (v. 9-11).
In response to the declaration of blessing (which in theological language is called macarism), John prostrates himself at the feet of the angel. This one takes him back on the field and prevents him from continuing. This ban is presented in three stages:
• A reminder of the nature of the angel: “your companion in service and that of your brothers”
• The command to worship God alone! The Apocalypse has repeatedly presented that all bow down
before God – and before the Lamb!
• The prophecy of which this angel is the spokesperson concerns the person of Jesus. Our greatness rests only
on our relationship to him and on the testimony that we render to him, nothing more.
B. The return of the King (19.11-21)
The victorious king (v. 11-16)
The rest of the chapter presents the return of the Lord Jesus, using expressions already mentioned in Revelation
1, but this time in the form of a rider:
• his name: Faithful and True (v. 11), Word of God (v. 13), King of kings and Lord of lords (v. 16)
• his works: he judges and fights with justice (v. 11), accompanied by his armies (v. 14), and he treads on the winepress
wine of the fiery wrath of God (v. 15, an echo of Rev. 14:19)
• description of his person:
o eyes (flame of fire – 1.14), head , written name (that no one knows), coat
(soaked in blood) (v. 12-13), all elements evoking royalty
o his weapons: a two-edged sword (1.16), with which he will smite the nations and make them
graze with an iron scepter (allusion to Ps 2.9, already quoted in 2.27 and 12.15)
This King who returns is therefore presented under military and conquering features. The following presents us with a victory
total, unequivocal, without equal.
A total and unequivocal victory (v. 17-21)
We are entitled to another description of a violent victory, with the help of images evoking a real
carnage. These images are not presented to express a sense of revenge, but total victory
and without equal. The list of defeated enemies is impressive:
• kings, military leaders, powerful, horses and their riders, all, free and slaves, small and great (v. 18)
• the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies (v. 19)
• the beast, the false prophet (v. 20)
• the “others” (those who had received the mark of the beast, who bowed down before his image) (v. 21)
The image of birds feeding on the vanquished, greedily devouring their flesh, evokes the terror and violence of the
fights. If the devil and his allies are defeated, they do not admit defeat, or at least they do not.
will not hunker down without trying to do as much damage as possible. The text is silent on the
unfolding of the fighting, and only gives the somber image of the defeat of the vanquished.
If the Lord Jesus is presented as the Prince of peace, the Lamb of God, this Lamb is victorious, he who
delivered us from our sins and who defeated the devil by his death on the cross, he who possesses all authority and
any power to bring to an end a combat which he initiated by shedding his own blood on the cross, and which ends
shedding the blood of his enemies.
Nothing but his death on the cross delivers us from our sins, and nothing but the violent killing
of its enemies will only lead them to recognize their defeat once and for all.
Some First-Century Christians Had to Fight to the Death in Their Testimony
given to Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God, who died on the cross for them, assures them of a total, dazzling victory, without
triumphalism, but unequivocally.
Other brothers and sisters throughout history have had to pay for their testimony with their lives. Even in our
days, some are ruthlessly put to death because they bear witness to exclusivity, authority and
lordship of Jesus Christ. May they find, may we find, with the heavenly multitudes, and in the
certainty of Jesus’ victory on the cross, the courage and tenacity to persevere.
1. And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
2. For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
3. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
4. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
7. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
10. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18. That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
Related Links / Notes
Study Notes are translated from the original French version prepared by Pierre Constant who has been Associate Professor of the New Testament at the Toronto Baptist Seminary since 2003. The orginal French notes are in “note” form, and are not a direct transcription of the video. The notes provided here follow that form, but are detailed enough to help provide a deep understanding of the texts in the book of revelation.
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