Introduction: This is the climatic chapter in Revelation. The first half (v. 1-10) tells about the fanfare in heaven that immediately proceeds the Lord’s return; and the last half of the chapter (v. 11-21) gives a vivid description of His return. The first half is celebration in heaven; the last half is victory on earth. In his commentary on Revelation, Tim LaHaye wrote of preaching the funeral sermon of one of his mentors, Dr. David L. Cooper. Present were the deceased wife and family along with his friends and many whom he had led to Christ during his earthly life. When the service concluded, the widow and family stepped forward to view the body a last time. Instead of the usual background music, the organist had been instructed to pull out all the stops in a majestic rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. “It is difficult to describe the thrill that went through me,” LaHaye wrote. When Jesus comes again, death itself will be swallowed up in victory, sin will be defeated, Satan will be banished, and all God’s people and all His angels will sing, “Hallelujah” for He shall reign forever and forever.
V. 1-3: After this…. That is, after the events of the Great Tribulation as described in the previous chapters, and especially after the earthquake that destroys the capital city of Babylon in chapter 18. The word “roar” is literally, in the Greek, a mega-sound, a great or loud noise. This roar of a great multitude either represents the joy of the total population in heaven, or perhaps a special “choir” made up of the martyred Tribulation saints. In chapter 18, the kings and merchants of the world, seeing Babylon fall, cried, “Woe! Woe! O great city.” But in heaven the reaction was the opposite: “Hallelujah!” The word “Hallelujah” occurs only four times in the entire New Testament—all four times in this chapter. This is the original Hallelujah Chorus. Each Hallelujah represents a new burst or anthem of heavenly praise.
V. 4-5: As we’ve seen, the twenty-four elders likely represent the raptured church of all the ages, and the four living creatures are a classification of angel. They chime in with their Hallelujah.
V. 6-8: The fourth and final Hallelujah now looks ahead to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
V. 9: The wedding and marriage supper of the Lamb are the subjects of verses 7-9, and it’s a subject drawn from the teaching ministry of Jesus. This seems to be the moment when the last tribulation saint – the last person in the history of the world to be saved – arrives in heaven. At the outset of the Return of Christ, there will be a ceremony or celebration that the history of redemption has been consummated. It’s the fulfillment of Ephesians 5:25-27: Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
V. 10: This is a fascinating verse because it tells us that we are much more similar to angels than angels are to God. This is one of the Bible’s intriguing definitions of angels: they are “fellow servants” with us. Angels are not to be worshipped; rather, both angels and humans are to worship only one—God. And notice the phrase: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” In other words, the essential message (the spirit) of prophecy is all about Jesus.
V. 11: Now begins the second half of the chapter which portrays the Second Coming of Christ at the moment of the Battle of Armageddon. John saw heaven opened and there was a white horse whose rider was Faithful and True. Earlier in chapter 6, the antichrist was pictured as a rider on a white horse, but this was a cheap counterfeit of the real Rider. There is much symbolism here. When Jesus comes again, He will not necessarily literally be riding on a white horse. This was a symbol of utter and total victory. In ancient Rome following a war, the victorious emperor would parade down the Via Sacra in Rome on a white horse, followed by his plunder and captives.
V. 12: His blazing eyes represent His holiness and justice. The crowns represent His absolute control and sovereignty. The name that no one knows indicates that He is so infinite and unfathomable that no one can ever possibly fully understand Him. He is indescribable.
V. 13: The robe dripped in blood represents His atoning victory. His name, the Word of God, corresponds to John’s title for Christ in John 1:1 and in 1 John 1:1
V. 14: The armies of heaven are probably the angelic legions, for angels are often referred to in the Bible in military terms, such as “hosts” and “legions” and “principalities and powers.”
V. 15: His power is found in His Word. Just as Jesus created the universe by saying certain words (“Let there be light”), so His power is conveyed by His thoughts and voice. He spoke and Lazarus came forth. He spoke and the storm was stilled. The man in the New Testament who said, “Lord, just speak the word and my servant will be healed,” understood this and was commended for His faith. The soul is saved and our lives are transformed by listening to His Word. Jesus’ great weapon at the Bible of Armageddon is simply His words. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike the nations.
V. 16-19: Another title is given for the Returning Christ—King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will return during the Battle of Armageddon. Cross-reference this with Zechariah 12-14 and Revelation 16:14 and 16.
V. 20: The Battle will be short, and the Lord’s victory will be swift and sudden, fulfilling the truth Martin Luther spoke about the devil: “One little word will fell him.”
V. 21: The Bible isn’t hesitant to graphically describe judgment. There’s no escape from the judicial wrath and the utter holiness of the Lord.
Conclusion: In the darkest days of the Reformation in Scotland, when the hearts of the faithful were low and languishing, John Knox accepted the invitation to return to his native land. Leaving Geneva, he bravely made his way back to Scotland. According to A. J. Gordon’s book, Ecce Venit, when Knox landed, word flashed across Scotland like lightening: “Knox is back.” Travelers suddenly mounted and sped into the country with the tidings, “John Knox has come.” At every cottage door the residents stood and clustered, wondering, as horseman after horseman cried, “Knox has come.” Ships departing from the harbor bore up to each other at sea to tell the news. Shepherds heard the tidings as they watched their flocks upon the hills. The whole land was moved; the whole country was stirred with a new inspiration, and the hearts of the enemies withered.” If the coming of a mere man could so electrify a nation, think of how we’ll feel when our Lord appears in the clouds at any moment and calls us Home. Maranatha! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!