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Jun 16 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Revelation chapter 19 – 06/16/2024



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion.                       Grace and Peace to you!

Happy Father’s Day to those who are celebrating.  A blessing of Peace to those who aren’t.  I know many men who were not raised by good fathers who have somehow become wonderful fathers themselves.  Congratulations!  You are overcomers.  Isn’t it remarkable that we know what a good father should look like even if we didn’t have one?  It must be because our Heavenly Father put his image in us all.

How are you feeling about the last few chapters of Revelation?  Is there an image or a sense that is staying with you?  For me, I’m just getting an image of Yellow Flashing Lights…like Warning, Slow Down, Proceed with Caution!  It’s like when you’re traveling at a safe speed, keeping up with traffic on a straight road, but then you see these lights indicating that there’s a turn ahead, or construction, or a detour.  That’s what I’m sensing.

In reading Revelation, it seems like, in Chuck’s words, there’s “a threatening closeness;”  and we hear the constant admonition to endure, to wait, to be patient, and to be faithful to Jesus. 

Jim, thank you for your talk last week.  We especially appreciated your filling in the context of the passage in John 18.  The question Pilate asked, “What is Truth” may very well be the question for our time.  It requires us all to deeply ask and discern our answers.  The Truth about the two kingdoms, the Truth about who we are, the Truth about the Church, the Truth about what love looks like, the Truth about what we are putting our faith and trust in.  The Truth about life and death. 

When the disciples asked how to pray, Jesus told them to “pray like this” and then gave them what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.”  I’m praying this morning the prayer as it is in the King James Version, which is what I grew up with.  Join me if you will.

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
     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.”

Once more they cried out,
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
you who fear him,
    small and great.”

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,
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
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;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Revelation 19:1-8

Intro: This is a fascinating chapter

It is complex, and it is put together well
– the chapter divides into two parts:
• in the first half, heaven reverberates with praise
• in the second half, Jesus leads heaven’s army in a final battle

The praise in the first half progresses like stair steps
We want to watch where these stairs lead
First: a great multitude, crying out
– they begin with a Hebrew word not translated into Greek, “Hallelujah”
• this word will be sung three more times
– their song is praise to God for his judgment against Babylon
– a second verse, praise for the smoke rising from her ruins
• forever and ever – literally to the eons and eons
• in other words, Babylon will never again be a problem
◦ this is the end of humans ruling over humans
Second: the familiar faces around God’s throne
(twenty-four elders and four living creatures)
– they do not add a new verse, but simply affirm what’s been sung already
– they add another untranslated Hebrew word: Amen
Third: the mysterious voice from the throne (that we’ve heard before)
– a call or invitation for God’s servants to worship
Fourth: the great multitude again, – the crescendo
– Babylon is in the rearview mirror
• there’s something new on the horizon
– now we can see where the stairway leads:
• from the great prostitute, to the Lamb and his Bride
• from one woman to another

The marriage about to take place is a surprise

There has been no mention of this until now
– we find hints of it in the gospels and Ephesians 6
• the Bride is given something
◦ the opportunity to prepare herself for the wedding
fine linen, bright and pure
• at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, the worship leaders,
◦ (musicians and singers) were dressed in fine linen (2 Chr. 5:12)
◦ this reiterates what we learned in first chapter about Jesus making us priests to his God (Rev. 1:6)
– fine linen are the saints’ righteous deedsreminder: righteousness is relational

The excitement doesn’t end here
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.” 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
Revelation 19:9-10

Worship is for God exclusively
– worshipers are servants of God – witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:8)
– the spirit behind all prophecy gives witness to Jesus
• and Jesus gives witness to God – Whoever has seen me has seen the Father

Before we move on . . .

At times, this praise to God’s for judgments has bothered me
– judgment seems like something that should be mourned
• it is a cause for deep sorrow and not enthusiastic joy
• what was I not seeing?
– we have to imagine ourselves in their situation
• these are the voices of people who have been oppressed (like Israel in Egypt)
◦ nations became great by riding on the backs of the poor
◦ they were exploited, abused, held down, and mistreated
• other nations had shed the blood of many of God’s people
◦ so, when they see their oppressors taken down, they rejoice

Perhaps you’ve heard of the troubles of the Southern Baptist Convention over the past three years
– widespread instances of pastors sexually abusing women and children
• two women in particular, spoke out courageously
◦ they were accused of lying, told it was their fault
◦ warned not to harm the ministry of “God’s anointed”
◦ they were ridiculed and threatened
• but eventually the truth came to light
– Tim Alberta interviewed of these women and one of them, “told me that her trauma had brought her into a closer relationship with God–and fundamentally changed the way she reads scripture. Whereas she once primarily studied the teachings of Jesus, she had, in recent years, developed a fondness for the front of the book.”
“I used to have a hard time reconciling the God of the Old Testament–all that doom and gloom and anger–with the idea of a loving God. But now, having lived this hell with the SBC, I like God’s anger and judgment. I understand it. I relate to it. I can see how betrayed God must have felt watching people mock His name with the way they treated each other.”
• that helps me to understand and appreciate the joyful side of justice

God’s judgment is not as personal as we tend to imagine

Though it looks to us like he’s sending fire and hail,
– most of the pain that comes from doing wrong is a natural consequence
• God did not have to launch an assault on Babylon
• the great city fell under the weight of its own sins
– the great prostitute was the epitome of world systems
• she served the gods of materialism, warfare, and sensuality
◦ she had persecuted and martyred God’s prophets and witnesses
◦ she collapsed because she was spiritually and morally bankrupt

The second half of the chapter records the last rebellion of humankind
(and it’s short-lived)
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. 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. He is clothed in a robe dipped in[b] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 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 winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16

The vision uses the analogy of warfare, but I don’t think we should take that too literally
– we just need to realize that Christian development is over against forces of resistance

Notice that in this section Jesus is not referred to here as “the Lamb” !!!
– he enters the scene prepared for battle
• in fact, what to call him is something of an enigma in this section
– in verse 11 he is “called” Faithful and True – titles that speak of his character
• in verse 13 he’s called The Word of God, which tells us something about his person
Long ago, at man times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son . . . (Heb. 1:1-2)
◦ and, of course, John’s gospel
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14)
– John says that this is the name by which he is “called”
• it isn’t his true name, but a name that defines his ministry
• in verse 16, he has another name written, King of kings and Lord of lords
◦ these are titles that identify his new relationship to world
– the mystery is in verse 12,
he has a name written that no one knows but himself
• it seems that he has just been named several times!
◦ but as I pointed out, most of these are titles, not names
• what is John getting at?
– Jesus became human, but he was always more than human
• he is something that we are not – that we’ll never be
◦ if we heard his name, we wouldn’t know that we heard it
◦ it belongs to another dimension – that larger reality
• for us, the divine nature of Jesus is unknowable
◦ there is no science that can discover it
◦ there is no rational argument that can define or prove it
• when we embrace Jesus, we surrender to a mystery

The battle itself is over before it begins

Robin Robertson, “This is a battle which is really no battle at all, because the reactionary forces have long since lost. They have merely been allowed their short period of rule.”
The sword in the Lord’s mouth is, of course, symbolic
– he speaks the word, and its creative force makes it a reality
– here is a second invitation to a “supper” in this chapter (see vv. 9 & 17)

We witnessed the fall of Babylon in chapters 17-18
– here we witness the demise of the diabolical powers behind world empires
• first the political beast empowered by the dragon (Satan)
◦ and his spokesperson, the false prophet who published the beast’s propaganda
• I read this and feel a great sense of relief
◦ the world will not always be what it is now

Conclusion: This chapter illustrates God’s victory in our lives

We come to him, and he frees us from the invisible powers
One day we rebel–maybe not big, but just a little–
and then God wins another victory in our lives
Along the way, we become what he has called us to be:
Servants: What does this mean for me? To whom am I a servant?
Worshipers: Praising God for who he is and what he does
There is a spiritual sensitivity that notices every trace of God in one’s surroundings
and responds with thankfulness and praise
It can become like a reflex
and though a reflex, no less heart-felt and true
I want to be that worshiper
I’m thinking that it is practice that makes it a reflex

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