A reader (Joe) wrote that he believed that Revelation 19’s battle between good and evil was a figure of the destruction of Jerusalem. However, there is no reason to believe that Revelation 19 is a symbol, because the birds eat the dead. People declare Revelation 19 to be a figure of speech mainly because it does not agree with their theology, and if you grant a man the right to declare any scripture “symbolic” and give him the ability to tell you what the figure means, you grant him the right to rewrite the Bible to suit himself. By taking the Bible figuratively and interpreting the figures to suit your purpose, you can spin the Bible in any manner that
you please. My rule for determining a symbol in the Bible is to assume that
all is literal unless the context demands that it be taken figuratively.
Furthermore, if you take a passage figuratively, you must have a Bible key
to unlock it. You are not permitted to make the explanation anything that
you want. An example is Rev 1:20 where Christ explains the seven stars.
He says they are the angels of the seven churches. We therefore have a Bible
key as to the meaning of the stars, and we do not have to guess. Most of
the time, though, commentators are not satisfied with Christ’s explanation
of the figure of the seven stars. They make the explanation of the figure
of the seven stars (the angels of the seven churches) into yet another
figure and explain that the angels of the seven churches stand for
something else entirely. That approach is not good hermeneutics.
Joe believes that the harlot of Rev 17-18 was Jerusalem, and ties that with the account in Revelation 19. However, John resets the context in Revelation 19 with the words, “After these things”. The context of Revelation 19 follows the destruction of Rome and the battle is at the end of the world, because Christ returns and defeats all of the evil. The great harlot in Revelation 17 is the religion of Rome that was first the apostate Gentile religion that had forgotten God’s revelation by the prophets (Heb 1:1, Rom 1:21-23) and was next the apostate church that absorbed almost all of the features of paganism and just called them by Christian names. The fact that she is a harlot tells us that she is apostate religion (Ezk 23:4-5). We know that the harlot is Rome because Rev 17:18 tells us “the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth”. Rome reigned in John’s day, but Jerusalem certainly did not. Rev 17-18 shows us a future destruction of Rome by 10 kings (Rev 17:12, 16). The events of Rev 17-19 happen after the release of Satan at the end of the 1000 years (Rev 20:7, 17:8, 12).
Shortly after the destruction of Rome, Christ comes again. That is what is happening at the beginning of Rev 19. After the destruction of Rome you find the world dominated by these 10 kings (Rev 13:1, 17:3, 16:13) whom the Man of Sin soon reduces to 7 (Dan 7:8) and they in turn give themselves to the service of the beast, the Devil (Rev 17:13, Rev 13:4). The beast and his allies rule the earth for 3 1/2 years (Rev 13:5), the same duration as the ministry of Christ. At the end of that 3 1/2 years, the Devil amasses an army from the whole world to attack Jerusalem (Rev 9:16). They assault the city and kill the two witnesses (Rev 11:8) who then arise from the dead after 3 1/2 days (Rev 11:11). They ascend up to Christ in a cloud (Rev 11:12), even as I Thes 4:17 says that we will do at the resurrection at
the coming of the Lord.
What you see in Rev 19 is from heaven’s side of the Second Coming.
Instead of an earthly perspective of the Second Coming, you see the heavenly
perspective. You see the conquering Christ coming with His army at His
Second Advent. Revelation 19 is a more detailed account of the brief synopsis of
the Second Coming that Paul presents in I Thes 4:13-18. In I Thes 4 Paul
tells us that God and Christ will come to the earth accompanied by
archangels and the souls of the righteous. II Thes 1:7-9 tells us that
the mighty angels also accompany Christ when He comes again as does Mt 13:39.
Rev 19 presents a view of the righteous with Christ in the air before they
descend to earth to fight the armies of the beast. It is as Isaiah
promises, “They shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa 40:31). The
resurrected righteous come mounted on Pegasus horses to destroy the forces
of evil for ever. The forces of Christ descend on Bozrah in Edom to meet
the armies of Satan who are gathered to annihilate the last organized
resistance to evil on the face of the planet (Micah 2:12, Jer 49:22, Isa
In Rev 19:5-10 a multitude in heaven praises God for the fact that His
plan has come to fruition. Christ is coming, His enemies will all be
destroyed and He will then go to the wedding supper of the Lamb (Mt
22:10-11, Lk 14:16) where the redeemed will receive their eternal kingdoms
and crowns (I Pet 5:4, Rev 2:20, Jas 1:12, II Tim 4:8, I Cor 9:25, Lk
Beginning in Rev 19:11 John provides an account of the Second Coming. The
description of Christ’s eyes flaming is the same as when we were first
introduced to Christ in Rev 1:14. There is no reason that we cannot take
the many crowns, the flaming eyes, the name written, the garment dipped in
blood, and the sword coming from His mouth as actual literal things. The
armies clothed in white are the fulfillment of the promise Christ made in
Rev 3:4 that the faithful would walk with Christ in white. The white
garments are literal, but they got them because they were righteous.
The sword of the lips of Christ is found in several places (Isa 11:4,
49:2, Rev 2:12, 16) and seems to be quite literal. Sometimes it is
described as the rod of His mouth (Isa 11:4). Sometimes it is described
as the breath of His lips (Isa 11:4). Sometimes it seems to be a breath of
fire (Isa 30:27, II Sam 22:9). All of these various descriptions are
literal because whatever He uses, He literally kills people.
One’s approach to understanding Rev is inseparably linked to his
philosophy of interpretation. If one approaches it from the viewpoint that
Revelation is the DOJ, that’s what he is going to see. If one approaches it from the
viewpoint of what does this really mean, then he has a chance to
understand the text.
Here is my high-level outline of Revelation. As you can see from the outline, Revelation is not a chronological story. It is a series of parallel stories. I have found six separate accounts in Rev of the coming of Christ. Most of these various comings of Christ relate to the fates of the various entities under discussion. The first one concerns Christ’s power over judgment (Rev 6:16-17). You can see the various other comings are related to the fates of various entities in Rev 8-22. Besides the
fact that we have figurized Rev to point of irrelevancy, the parallel accounts
make the book difficult to comprehend. The outline below summarizes my
studies to date:
I. Introduction to the glorified Christ, our High Priest (Rev 1:1-1:20)
II. Letters to the seven churches (Rev 2:1-3:39)
1) These letters to seven literal churches are the keys to
understanding the subsequent figures in Rev
2) Jesus takes us from seven known literal churches and shows us
how He mixes figures with plain text
3) Jesus expects us to use the techniques established in Rev 1-3
to understand the rest of the book
4) Jesus starts with the known literal churches and takes us to the
unknown future history of the world.
III. The throne of God and the Coronation of Christ (Rev 4:1-5:14)
1) Rev 4 shows the Father as He was before the cross
2) Rev 5 shows the Father granting all power in heaven and on earth via
the transfer of the book of power
IV. Christ’s exercise of the power of the seven seals (Rev 6:1-7:17)
1) Christ demonstrates His power over the book of power by opening the
seals on it.
2) The first six seals are Christ’s power over
a) The domains of human governments
b) The promulgation and outcome of war
c) Transportation and commerce
d) Death and Hell
e) The souls of the righteous
f) Final wrath
3) Chapters 8-22 describe Christ’s power over the seventh seal, the
course of human history.
V. The Jew First-The Fate of Israel (Trumpets Rev 8:1-14:20)
1) The fate of the earth from Israel’s vantage (Rev 8:1-11:19)
This time is the antitype of the Feast of Passover-10 plagues
2) The intermediate fate of national Israel (Rev 12:1-12:17)
These events are the antitype of the Feast of Firstfruits
3) The fate of the harvest of Israel and her enemies (Rev 13:1-14:20)
These events are the antitype of the Feast of the Ingathering
VI. And Also the Gentiles-The Final Fate of the Gentiles (Bowls of wrath
4) The fate of the Gentiles (Rev 15:1-16:21)
5) The final fate of the idol-worshipping apostate church
6) The final fate of evil government and its ancillary pagan
religion (Rev 19:5-19:21)
VII. The Final Fate of Christians/the Redeemed
7) The final fate of the Devil (Rev 20:1-15),
8) The glorious fate of the righteous (Rev 21:1-22:5).
VIII. Exhortation to obedience and faithfulness (Rev 22:6-22:21)
The outline below is another way of looking at the last two thirds of
Revelation. It describes the Seven Fates controlled by Christ in His
exercise of the power of the Seventh Seal and the course of human history
as shown in Rev 8:1-22:5.
The destiny of Israel as God prepares the world to let His
people go (Rev 8:1-12:17)
The destiny of the Promised Land (Rev 13:1-14:20)
The destiny of the Gentile nations (Rev 15:1-16:19)
The destiny of the apostate church (Rev 17:1-19:4)
The destiny of the rulers of the darkness of the earth (Rev 19:5-19:21)
The destiny of the Devil (Rev 20:1-15)
The destiny of the redeemed (Rev 21:1-22:5)
As far as the white horses of Rev 19:11, 14 are concerned; there is
nothing in the context that would require that they have to be taken figuratively.
Good hermeneutics then requires that we understand the horses literally.
It is certainly within the realm of possibility that what Rev 19:14 shows is
the saints after their resurrection and rising to meet Christ in the air
when they begin to fulfill Christ’s promise in Rev 2:26. Joseph Seiss in
his book “The Gospel in the Stars” quotes ancient sources showing that the
ancients understood the constellation Pegasus (the flying horse) to be a
prophecy of the coming Messiah. Christ’s literal advent mounted on a
flying white steed is within the realm of possibility and there is no compelling
reason to take the passage as a figure.
On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible to relate
Christians on white horses to the army of the saints today wielding the
sword of the Spirit. The text does not even say that they have swords.
It says they are an army and we would assume weapons from the fact they are
an army, but it does not define their weapons. Jesus promises us that we
will use a “rod of iron” (Rev 2:27). Perhaps the rod is another description of
a sword just like Christ’s sword is described in various ways, but the
weapons of the saints are not specified in Rev 19. There is no basis for tying
Rev 19 with the Christian’s current warfare.
Another problem with the “Rev 19 is happening now” theory is that the
chapter happens after (Rev 19:1) the 10 kings destroy Rome (Rev 17:18).
You cannot harmonize Christ’s return with the faithful on horses “after these
things” at the destruction of Rome with a current battle. If you take Rev
19 to be something that happens throughout the Christian age, then it
seems to me that you have to give up the notion that Rev 1:1 means it was all
fulfilled in the first century.
> > I also believe Rev. 1:1
> > through 22:21 to have been fulfilled. Further, Carolyn, I believe Matthew
> > 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 have also been fulfilled. In fact, everything in
> > the Law of Moses, in the Psalms, and in the Prophets about Jesus has been
> > fulfilled.
Joe, with your view on Rev I would have to ask if you believe that the
Second Coming, the Resurrection, the Judgment and eternal reward are yet
future events and on what basis you establish your belief? Can you not
relegate every Second Coming passage in the NT to the past on the same
basis that you relegate Rev to the past?