You Need an Invitation – Revelation 19:1-21 06/27/21
Our text today is picture of God covering all of the bases. There is no doubt, at all, in any way, that what God wants to happen is going to happen. And, although from our perspective it seems to have been delayed a very long time, it is now shown to be taking place.
This section breaks into two primary topics, with the first topic being introduced through the use of (μετὰ ταῦτα ἤκουσα), “after this I heard.” This expression occurs nowhere else in Revelation. The second section is then introduced with (καὶ εἶδον), “then I saw,” which is much more common, actually showing up many times.
Take a moment to read through Revelation 19:1-6. There is a bit of a difficulty with verses 19:1–6. It’s recorded prior to the arrival of King Jesus and the defeat of the Beast. Does this represent present praise in heaven because of the coming judgment and kingdom? Or… is it revealing what will take place in the future following the climactic victory of Jesus? Again, we find that chronology of visions has little to do with the order in which the events of history actually took place.
The praises being raised to God are in response to His righteous actions against those who have rebelled against Him and persecuted His people. What we have is the fulfillment of the martyred saints’ petition to God. They cried out to God in Revelation 6:10-11.
It has often appeared that God was not doing anything, and that the death of His saints had little meaning. How often have we prayed, and it seemed that God is not listening? In spite of appearances, one of the things Revelation shows us is that God is moving with a purpose. We may not like what’s happening right now, but God is indeed at work. In response, now the heavens resound with the sound of worship and praise; Revelation 19:3-7. If that isn’t giving you goose bumps, you’re not paying attention! The reference to the judgment of Babylon, I believe, is a reference to the judgment, and elimination of the spiritual Babylon and the power behind it, Satan the Dragon.
Then we’re shown the most expanded description of Christ’s victory over, and judgment of, all of the ungodly forces arrayed in rebellion against Him at the end of history; Revelation 19:11-21. Make no mistake, here Jesus is revealed as the King and Judge. Certainly, there have been precursors of this event in history, but in each case the lesser is fulfilled and made obsolete by the greater. This is the culmination of human history and the destiny of each Christian.
This is a literal event, although certainly there is some symbolic language being used. As we consider this, note that just as the first coming of Jesus Christ was literally fulfilled in history, so also is the second coming of Christ. At the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus was literally, physically, taken up into heaven; Acts 1:9-11.
Jesus’ return will be just as literal and physical. We’re still waiting for this future event, but it will be literally fulfilled. Will He literally be riding a white horse with his clothing dipped in blood? Will there be an army following Him on white horses? I cannot answer that, certainly God is capable. But we have to recognize that there is a lot of symbolism here.
After the coming judgment is announced, John sees a vision of the judgment itself; Revelation 19:19-21. The actual judgment will take place in two phases: first the Beast and the False Prophet will be captured and destroyed. Following this, their followers are summarily executed. Since the Beast and his followers have already destroyed “Babylon” in accordance with God’s purposes, this victory points to the destruction of all remaining human opponents. It’s noteworthy that the victory is accomplished by Christ alone.
At this point I want to hit the pause button and circle back to something really important. From the beginning, we were created to be one with God Himself. The text puts it this way; Revelation 19:7-9. If you stop to think about what is being said, you might find yourself a little uncomfortable with your conclusions. Let’s think this through.
The metaphor of the Lord Jesus as the bridegroom of His Church was a common image in early Christianity. In verse 8 we find that the bride has “made herself ready” even as she is “granted” to be arrayed, passive voice, in fine linen, but that fine linen symbolizes “the righteous deeds of the saints.” This is active. Once again we find an uncomfortable union of the agency of God coupled with the activity of people.
So what are the righteous deeds? We find the answer in Revelation 19:10. The righteous deeds are shown to be holding onto “the testimony of Jesus.” Within the context of the rest of Revelation this expression always means bearing witness to Jesus in both word and deed. Negatively, this means that Jesus’ followers will not give their loyalty to Babylon, but rather have obediently separated themselves from that world system.
The result of this, if you think it through, is that the marriage supper cannot take place before Jesus’ followers complete their preparation through performing “righteous deeds,” and this is done by persevering in their faith regardless of the level of persecution. This introduces a theological problem. This line of reasoning results in our justification, that is, the work of Jesus, being the necessary condition for entrance into the eternal kingdom, that shouldn’t trouble anyone. However, good works, based on Revelation 19:8, becomes a necessary secondary condition for admittance into the marriage supper. If you’re going to get invited, you are expected to do something. This is exactly what Paul is saying in Romans 2:7.
Now, although this might make some uncomfortable, we should note that the testimony of the Scriptures is consistent: salvation, acceptance by God, is always a gift made available through God’s grace. However, even as we emphasize this, we should note that salvation through faith must result in action on our part, our salvations are intended to result in good works. Because we have been saved, this always comes first, the normal and necessary response is that our lives simply must reflect the reception of that grace. There must be a change.
Can you be reasonably considered a “servant of God?” This is more than a theological consideration. It is the reflection of a life lived on purpose. It is the reflection of a life that has been transformed by the power of God, and that transformed life is now available to be used of God. And then He gives us good works to do in the power of His Spirit. This is what’s so astounding about our God. He loves us so much that He asks us to come alongside Him and join Him in His work. This becomes a reflection of His plan for our lives, in fact He prepares those things for us to do in advance.
If our lives do not reflect the reality of our salvations, there is reason to question the reality of that salvation. Those good works will never be enough to save us, but they must always follow salvation. How about your life? Is it geared toward receiving an invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? Only you can answer that question since each of our lives come with different callings and different opportunities and constraints.
 David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22, vol. 52C, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 1019.  David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22, vol. 52C, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 1023–1024.  David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22, vol. 52C, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 1019.  G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 926.  G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 932.  G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 932.  G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 932.  G. K. Beale,