Summary: John saw Him die, saw Him risen, saw Him ascend, then saw Him return
“After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; 2 BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.” 3 And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ ” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” 10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” NASB
The first thing the student of the Bible must realize when coming to the book of Revelation, is that there is much symbolism used that needs to be deciphered when possible, and left alone when the information is scarce.
There have been very many attempts in recent decades to decode the prophecies concerning the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ that I think have gone to some extremes and have gotten more than a little off track.
On the other hand there is enough information available to the careful student for a general understanding, if not detailed, of what will soon come upon the world, and what it means for the true believer in Christ as well as the rebellious unbeliever, and the apostate residing in the visible church.
I will tell you now that I do not propose to unpack all of the symbolism presented in the text we’re looking at and tell you with any authority that ‘this-means-such-and-such-and-therefore’.
It will be necessary for us to define some terms and support our definitions; but for the main focus I want to do what the text actually does at its root, and that is to ‘give praise and glory to the Lord our God’, who reigns the Victor forevermore.
AFTER THESE THINGS
It is very significant to our study that we pay attention to the first three words of chapter 19 and consider the transition being made here.
‘After these things’, refers back to all the darkness and gloom that has come before, and bridges it with the light and joy and triumph that is to come. Here are the words of J. Vernon McGee on this transition.
“The destruction of Babylon, the capital of the Beast’s kingdom, marks the end of the Great Tribulation. The somber gives way to song. The transfer is from darkness to light, from black to white, from dreary days of judgment to bright days of blessing. This chapter makes a definite (branching) in Revelation, and ushers in the greatest event for this earth – the Second Coming of Christ. It is the bridge between the Great Tribulation and the Millennium.” Reveling Through Revelation, II, 66. (Parenthesis mine to replace ‘bifurcation’ for clarity’s sake)
In verses 21 through 24 of chapter 18 we have the description of the end of Babylon the great harlot and before going far into our text we need to take a closer look at that. Before we do though, observe that the opening words of chapter 19 are a response to the invitation of chapter 18 verse 20.
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”
This is the great vindication we all await, believers in Christ. You are going to see that the culmination of the Great Tribulation will be the vindication of all the saints through the ages who have suffered and who have been identified with Christ in this world – who have chosen the reproach of Christ rather than the passing pleasures of sin – and the glory of God and of His Christ.