The Great Supper of God
The Great Supper of God
Brad Mills / General
Revelation / Second Coming; Christ as King / Revelation 19:11–21
Christians were already enduring various levels of persecution. A few had been martyred for their faith. Others were experiencing social and economic hardship, as detailed in several of the letters sent to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Re 2-3). Much of John’s vision warns believers to expect that persecution to increase.
They were about to endure a much greater level of persecution in the centuries that would follow. But, through it all, the church continued to grow and mature. God’s hand of protection was upon them as the saints persevered through every trial and tribulation. For many of them, the vision of heaven in chapters 19 and 21 was precisely what the Spirit used to give them the strength to persevere.
Just like it was in the first century, the Universal Church experiences various levels of physical, social, and economic persecution throughout this age between Christ’s first and second coming. I mention this a lot, because I don’t want us to fall into the assumption that this book was primarily written for a past generation. It has always been relevant to the Church, and it remains relevant to us today.
Whether or not Christ could return in your lifetime does not make this text any more or less applicable to you right now. You are called to walk by faith in the promises of God regardless of how soon the fulfillment of those promises will take place.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
So the idea that God would delay his coming, is proof of his patience toward the unrepentant. But there will come a day when that opportunity is removed.
The appearance of the King in vengeance marks the end of the opportunity for repentance.
Read Rev 19:11-21.
This chapter marks the end of another cycle that depicts aspects of Christ’s reign and judgment throughout the present age and culminating in his second coming. It follows the pattern we recognized in the cycles of seven seals, trumpets, and bowls which also concluded with the return of Christ in judgment.
› The first half of the passage simply reflects with reverence upon…
I. The Appearance of the King (11-16)
After witnessing the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven, John sees another vision, but now he sees it from the perspective of earth. Looking up into heaven, he sees the sky open and a white horse appears (11). The Rider is “Faithful and True” the same title assigned to the author of the letter to Laodicea (Re 3:14).
In his first coming Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. It represented his coming in peace to redeem his covenant people. However, in his second coming, he rides a white horse which represents the fact that he comes to judge and make war.
Furthermore, he has eyes that are “like a flame of fire” (12a). We saw the opening description of the Son of Man included the same detail (1:14). And, again, the eyes like a flame of fire described the Son of God in the letter to the church in Thyatira (2:18).
The implication seems to be that his judgments are based upon what he has witnessed not only in their actions, but also their thoughts and intentions. He is not a capricious judge, but he brings his wrath upon those who have committed abominations against God.
He is wearing “many diadems” on his head which speak to his royal office (12b). Remember, there are two kinds of crowns in Revelation. There is the wreath of victory (stephanos) and the crown of royalty (diadema). These crowns represent the coming of Christ in his Kingly office. He comes with sovereign authority to judge all mankind.
He also bears a name “that no one knows but himself” (12c). This name that is written would presumably be different than the name by which he is called in the next verse. And we would think it must also be different from the name that is given in verse 16 “King of kings and Lord of lords”, the same name given to the Lamb (Re 17:14).
But, as is often the case in Revelation, the vision contains symbolism. The harlot in Re 17:5 was said to have “a name of mystery” that is immediately defined as “Babylon”. The mystery is being revealed by the revelation. Regarding Christ’s unknown name, it seems likely that it was only hidden until it was time to be revealed to all mankind at the great battle. At that time, all would know that he is indeed “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Phillips: Jesus thus appears in judgment not to become Ruler over all, but already possessing ultimate lordship, wearing many diadems of rule and dominion on his sovereign head. What he is by right he now enforces by actual rule, taking the ends of the earth as his possession (Ps. 2:8).
Christ is presently reigning from heaven, but upon his return he will execute his judgment as the culmination of that phase of his reign.
1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
In other words, he is reigning and he will continue to reign from heaven until all of his enemies have been finally defeated. This does not imply that he will cease to reign after the defeat of his enemies. Jesus will reign forever and ever (Re 11:15). But, the final defeat of his enemies, marks the end of this present phase of his reign. That is what is being pictured in this passage.
Christ has become the executioner. His robe is literally “baptized” in blood (13a). Now, some argue that this robe was dipped in blood (as the ESV translates the verb). But that makes little sense of the context. Did the rider dip his robe prior to the invasion? Some have tried to clear up this confusion by suggesting that it is a reference to his shed blood upon the cross.
But the idea is much more consistent with Christ’s execution of judgment. It is based upon an allusion to…
Isaiah 63:3 ESV
“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.
The Executioner’s robe is sprinkled or spattered with the blood from those who have been slain by his sword. As previously described of the Son of Man (Re 1:16), he bears a sharp sword in his mouth (15). Here we see the connection between his righteous judgment and the proclamation of judgment in the Word of God (13b).
There is a chiastic structure to this passage that emphasizes the central verse. The outside frame references the unknown name in v.12 that is revealed in v.16. The garment soaked in blood in v.13a is related to the treading of the winepress in v.15b. Then, within that frame you have the “Word of God” in v.13b described as a sharp sword coming from his mouth in v.15a.
This indicates that the climax of the passage is v.14 where the focus is upon those who appear with the King. He commands an army from heaven. The army is clothed in white and pure linen and they are also riding upon white horses. This army is made up of the conquering saints, who are finally vindicated by their victorious King.
The revelation of the King’s appearance highlights his victory and our vindication. Both are accomplished by Christ. As he returns in judgment, we follow and receive the benefits of the spoils of war.
There is a sense in which we are already tasting that victory now…
1 John 5:4–5 ESV
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
By faith, we overcome the world now. We presently enjoy that victory as we “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:10). Christ has accomplished the work that we actively partake of by faith.
› The appearance of the King is followed by a description of…
II. The Vengeance of the King (17-21)
An angel calls the birds to “gather for the great supper of God” (17). This supper is a feast for the birds to gorge themselves upon the armies of the earth who had gathered with the beast in opposition to the Lord (18-19). This alludes to the language of Ezek 39:17-20, where birds and beasts of the field are called to assemble together for a feast upon the mighty, the princes, and the warriors of the earth.
This “great supper of God” (17) contrasts the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (9). The connection is intentional. Those who are united to Christ by faith will attend the marriage feast. Those who do not receive Christ as their Lord and Savior will be feasted upon. The latter is a “macabre parody” of the former (Wilcock).
Two stages of this judgment are described at the close of this passage:
1. The beast and the false prophet were captured and “thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur” (20).
2. The rest of the inhabitants of earth were slain by the sword that protruded from the mouth of the Son of Man (21).
The grapes of wrath are ripened by their own idolatry and immorality for the coming of the Lord in judgment.
Hebrews 10:31 ESV
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Isaiah 63:1-6 is a terrifying picture of God’s vengeance in pouring out His wrath. Yet, in v.4 we read, “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.” The return of Christ ushers believers into the consummation of their eternal celebration, while it condemns unbelievers to their eternal torment.
Jesus is faithful to keep his covenant promises. That’s wonderful news for the believer. When Jesus came in peace, he bore the full weight of the wrath of God in their place. Jesus willingly drank the cup of God’s wrath which was overflowing with the immorality of his enemies. He took our sin and shame upon himself and paid the penalty of death on our behalf. This is the good news of the substitutionary atonement that Christ accomplished for all who place their faith in him.
But this judgment represents very bad news for those who have rejected Christ. The preparations of both “the marriage supper” as well as “the great supper of God” have already been determined by God. We simply await his perfect timing in carrying out his sovereign purpose.
The fact that Jesus can keep this name hidden until the appointed time is indicative of his authority. It is only possible to know his name on His terms. We must come to know him as he has revealed himself to us. Whether or not we do so determines our experience of eternity. Will it be celebration or torment?
All people will eventually submit to the reign of Christ. Either they will submit to his offer of peace, or they will surrender before his righteous judgment.
John 5:24 ESV
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
The recipients of the blessing of salvation are to respond with gratitude and praise. The attributes of God that are revealed in his coming judgment should result in the loudest songs of praise.
We often sing “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”. In the last verse we encourage one another with these words:
Haste thee on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer. Heavens eternal days before thee, God’s own hand shall guide us there. Soon shall close thy earthly mission, soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 9:58 AM February 10, 2020.