Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 19:17-21

Revelation 19:17-21

Then I saw one angel standing in the sun, and he shouted in a loud voice to all the birds flying high in the sky: Come, gather around for the great banquet of God, 18 to eat your fill of the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of powerful people, the flesh of horses and those who ride them, and the flesh of all people, both free and slave, and small and great!
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to do battle with the one who rode the horse and with his army. 20 Now the beast was seized, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur. 21 The others were killed by the sword that extended from the mouth of the one who rode the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.
(NET Bible)

Shock of battle

These days they call it talking trash to the other team. You see this behavior a lot when NFL teams clash, especially if they hate each other. But trash-talk is not new; the OT records an Israelite king giving some good advice: The one who puts on his battle gear should not boast like one who is taking it off (1 Kings 20:11). It is not time to brag until you win!

If someone goes to war with Jesus, when the battle is done, who do you think will be taking off their battle gear?

During the sixth bowl judgment, Satan, the beast and the false prophet sent demonic spirits to summon the kings of the earth for the final battle at Armageddon (16:13-16). The time has come!

The whole book of Revelation has led up to the Battle of Armageddon, when Jesus returns with his army from heaven and finds the worlds might assembled against him. But all ? except for Jesus ? are in for a shock. First, we are shocked, and Grant Osborne explains why: There is no battle (Rev. 19:20). It seems that when the sword comes from the Lords mouth (19:15), the battle is over instantly.[1]

Second, the powerful, proud rulers of the world and their military forces are shocked to find themselves suddenly dead and awaiting final judgment. They cannot even resist the army of ravenous birds, much less Jesus the All-Powerful!

Revelation 19 contains two great banquets held by the Lamb: the first is his wedding celebration for those committed to him (19:9), and the second is the feast for the vultures who eat the dead flesh of the Lambs enemies after Armageddon (19:21). The righteous eat, and the wicked are eaten.

But the fate of the beast and the false prophet, who had deceived and ruined so many, was not to die. They were first taken and then thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur (19:20). The word alive receives great stress: Alive, the two were thrown into the lake of fire burning with sulfur (my translation of 19:20b). The implication is one of conscious punishment.[2]

The true Jesus

Perhaps you have heard of the Charles Wesley hymn titled Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild. Theological liberalism takes that title as a summary of who Jesus truly is. To them God is love and only love. But Jesus-the-divine-warrior shows he is also holy and just; Jesus is fully willing to judge rebellion decisively. The beast will live in fire as will all those who give him allegiance.

But for those who give their allegiance to him, Jesus has these words: My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. (John 10:27-28).

If you have given your life to Jesus, you need not feel anxious about what he will do!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 689.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 690.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!

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