Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Battle of Armageddon

Revelation 19

The entire book of Revelation has been building up to this point. This is the climax of the book, the moment Christ returns to the earth as prophesied many times. In fact many times people will apply God given signs for the Second Coming of Christ, and apply them to the Rapture of the church. The “Rapture of the church” is a signless event, but the “Second Coming of Christ” has many signs.

The scriptures regarding the “Second Coming of Christ” are so clearly foretold that even Satan will know when Christ will come. He will prepare his armies to fight with the soon coming Christ, as seen in these scriptures. In fact we are told that Satan “knows that he has but a short time” when he is cast out of heaven in the middle of the week. He will have 1,260 days according to chapter 12.

This portion of scripture is what we commonly call the “battle of Armageddon.” The word Armageddon is only found in the bible one time. This word is actually the combination of two Hebrew words. The first is “Har” meaning a mountain range, or hill country. The second word is “Megiddo”. This battle will take place on the south side of Megiddo, southeast of Mount Carmel.

According to Ezekiel 38 and 39 Antichrist will conquer Russia in the north and return to destroy Israel. Encompassing Jerusalem and ready to conquer the city, something happens. Heaven opens and a white horse can be seen.

In chapter 6 we saw a white horse rider who had a bow in his hand, but no arrow. We are told that this rider was given a crown and went forth to conquer. The rider in chapter 6 was the Antichrist.

The rider in this chapter is different. We read that his eyes are as a flame of fire, upon his head is many crowns, and out of his mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword. This description identifies the rider as the same person John saw in chapter one, the LORD Jesus Christ.

The first white horse rider had no name, but this one does. In fact we are given the name of this rider: "The Word of God" and upon his vesture is the title "King of kings and Lord of lords."

This portion of scripture is one of confusion to many. Many debate as to whether to believe the scriptures regarding the white horse, or to consider them figurative. I believe that this portion of scripture is to be taken very literal and why not? If you believe the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, then why not believe this prophecy.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”   Zechariah 9:9

As far as we know Jesus only rode but one time in the days of His earthly ministry, and this one time He rode upon a humble animal. Just as this portion of scripture was literally fulfilled so will the scripture regarding His glorious second coming. The only difference is that when Jesus comes the next time He will not be riding upon a donkey, but a stallion.

Many claim that this scripture is figurative. Those that oppose the literal teaching of these scriptures will say that there are not horses in heaven. I remember a local radio preacher who claimed that this portion of scripture was not to be believed as literal. He would say “There are not stables in heaven. What would God do with all of those horses?” If you do not believe there are horses in heaven then explain to me these verses.

“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”   2 Kings 2:11

“And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”  2 Kings 6:17

I wonder why no one has a problem with the horses that carried Elijah into heaven. Why not dispute the scripture that talks about the armies of heaven on horses of fire? They only want to argue about the white horse.

Not only does Christ come on a white horse, but the army of heaven follows Him on white horses. The riders upon these white horses are clothed in fine linen white and clean. Guess who this is. The clothing of those that accompany Christ is the same as the clothing of the bride mentioned earlier in the chapter. Therefore it is the church, the bride, accompanying her husband back to the earth. Make no mistake we are not coming to fight. Christ will destroy alone.

This is a fulfillment of Enoch who said:

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”    Jude 14

As we see Christ coming He is not unarmed. Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword and with it He will smite the nations and rule them with a rod of iron.

Psalms 2

The most remarkable thing about this passage is that we are told that the white horse rider has His vesture is dipped in blood. Whose blood is upon His vesture? Is it His or His enemies? Isaiah the prophet answers this question for us.

“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.”   Isaiah 63:1-6

This prophecy does not refer to Christ in the days of His passion on the cross for the prophet identifies the day as a "day of vengeance." There was not vengeance in the heart of Christ upon the cross. In fact He cried out Father forgive them. These verses are still yet future. They refer to the scriptures before us today.

This chapter is the fulfillment of:

“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”  Revelation 14:18-20.

From this prophecy we learn that the armies of the Antichrist will cover the entire land of Palestine, and the slaughter will be so great that the blood of these armies will flow to the horses bridle for 200 miles. Isaiah called this a time when the land will be "soaked with blood."

The tribulation period comes to an end with this battle. As we have seen the armies of the east and west will be assembled by the three demon spirits according to chapter 16:13-16. The field of battle will be the valley of Megiddo, which is located in the heart of Palestine.

On one side will be the armies of Antichrist and on the other the Heavenly armies of Christ. The time of the battle will be when the harvest is fully ripe and it will take place at the moment when the armies of Antichrist are about to take the city of Jerusalem. According to these same verses we learn that this battle will be fought and finished in one day.

“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.”  Zechariah 14:1-3

Before the destruction of the armies of Antichrist, he and the False Prophet will be taken alive and cast into the Lake of Fire. Just as Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven without dying these two will go to the Lake of Fire without dying.

No doubt just before the Antichrist is seized and cast into the Lake of Fire, Satan will make an exit from his body. Once Satan realizes the defeat of his army he will have no further use for Antichrist. After the battle is over however, he will be bound for a 1,000 years and cast into the bottomless pit.

The destruction will be so great that God will prepare for it in advance. The flesh of the dead will be eaten by the fowls of the air so as to cut down on the stench and pestilence.

“And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God. And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.”    Ezekiel 39:17-22

In this same chapter we are told that the slaughter would be so great that it would take seven months to bury the bones of the dead, and that the wood taken from the weapons would last the inhabitants for fuel for seven years.

What a terrible battle this will be. I’m glad that I’m on the winning side.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Marriage of The Lamb

Revelation 19

If we study the scriptures it is amazing to find the way the Holy Spirit has displayed for us the Bridal relationship between the church and the Lord. In the Old Testament we have the wonderful example of Isaac and Rebekah. In this story we are told how that the father, Abraham, sends his servant to find a bride for the son Isaac. The servant goes out and searches until he finds Rebekah. Once she is found the servant woos her and brings her back with him. This is a perfect picture of God sending the Holy Spirit to find a bride for Christ. The Holy Spirit finds us; we don’t go out looking for Him. The Holy Spirit woos us with the goodness of God, and eventually brings us back to be with our bridegroom.

We also have the Song of Solomon. Many have questioned why this small book is in the scriptures. It seems at first glance to simply be a love story between Solomon and his bride, but further study reveals that it is a picture of the relationship Christ has with His church. In this book we are given a great picture of the love relationship between the Lord and His bride the church.

This subject of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb was a subject that the Lord Jesus liked to dwell upon while He was upon the earth. We are told of the parable of the “ten virgins” who go out to meet the bridegroom, and again He speaks of the marriage of the king’s son in Matthew 22.

Seeing how important this event is I would like to mention a few things that are important to consider.

Notice first that this is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, not the Marriage Supper of the Bride. Usually a wedding is the consummation of the hopes of the bride. It is the female who dreams of this day from her youth. I have two little girls at home, and they will say things like “when I get married I want a dress like that.” We have to watch shows at my home like “Say Yes to the Dress”. I would never have watched a show like that when I was a young boy. A wedding is not something that a male plans for, talks about or dreams of.

This wedding however is different. This wedding will be the consummation of the plan of God for His Son. This wedding has been planned since before the foundations of the world according to Ephesians 1:4.

This wedding will be the joy of Christ as a man, for this wedding would not be possible if Christ had not come to be born in the flesh. This wedding is why Jesus took His human nature back with Him to Glory, for today in heaven sits the “Man Christ Jesus.”  (I Tim. 2:5)

While the bride was chosen for Him before the foundation of the world the espousal could not take place until after Christ assumed humanity. So it is after Christ’s incarnation that we read:

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 11:2

When you think about a wedding there is usually a time of espousal. Some will be engaged for a year or maybe two, but the Lord has been engaged to His bride for a much longer space of time. In fact this is the longest engagement the world has ever known. The Lord has been engaged to His bride for over 2,000 years now, but I do not believe He will have to wait much longer.

Let us ask and try to answer some questions about this wedding. Many of these things may seem simple, but you would be amazed how little some people know about this great event.

1.  Where and when shall this marriage take place?
This marriage will take place in heaven after the judgment seat of Christ, and before the appearing of Christ with His saints at the Revelation. While the earth is undergoing seven years of tribulation, in heaven a wedding will be taking place.

The minister of the ceremony (though doubtless will be God the Father), and the vows the bridegroom and bride will take are not disclosed to us in the scriptures.

I spoke to the children the other night about us being married to Christ. As you can imagine they had a look of confusion on their faces. I explained that a marriage in the bible was a little different than we think of it today. In the bible a marriage was two people becoming one.

In the Garden of Eden God took Adam and Eve and joined them together in marriage. Although neither of them had a mother or father God said “for this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” When we are married to Christ it simply means that we are joined to Him for all eternity.

One thing we know for sure is that no one will give away the bride, for the Bible tells us that Christ will present the church to Himself according to Ephesians 5:25-27.

2. Who is the Bride?
There is actually a group of people who claim the bride in this chapter is Israel because she is referred to as a wife in verse 7. The reason they say this is because God refers to Himself as the husband of Israel in Isaiah 54:5. They claim that “wife” is the earthly name for Israel and the “bride” is the heavenly name for her. This simply is not true.

In the Old Testament the wife of God is Israel, but in the New Testament it is the Church that is the bride of Christ. If you study the Old Testament you will see that Israel, the wife of God, was called a Whore, and she was caught in whoredome. Because of this she was cast off by God, but promised that He would receive her back when she quit her whoredom. The Lambs wife however is a virgin. What is said about Israel has never been said about the church. Therefore the wife of the Old Testament, Israel, cannot be the bride of the Lamb.

Further proof is seen when we consider that the wife of God, Israel, resides in the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium. The Bride, the Lamb's wife, will reside in the New Jerusalem during this period of time. Therefore we can conclude with certainty that this bride is the church, not Israel.

This Bride is from a disowned and outcast race, but the bridegroom saw her and loved her. To redeem this bride the bridegroom had to leave His home country and come to this sin cursed earth, the home of the bride. When He came He was rejected by her family and eventually killed by them. But instead of them taking His life He willfully laid it down thus demonstrating His love.

When He left her home country He went back to His and began preparing a house for her. And one day soon He will come and get her taking her to His home.

4. What is meant by her making herself ready?
In these verses we see that the bride is arraigned in fine linen. This fine linen is not called the righteousness of Christ, but the righteousness of the saints. This makes it clear that it is not imputed righteousness in this verse. This is our righteousness.

So how does the bride make herself ready? Peter tells us how.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”    I Peter 1:7

The righteousness then of the saints will be their works and fiery test that have come through judgment and reward. When we stand before God in judgment those  fault and failures we are so prone to will be removed by fire, while our true works will remain pure as gold. These works of righteousness will adorn the bride.

5. What is the Marriage Supper?
This is not the wedding itself. The marriage feast follows the wedding. There is one thing that we know for sure; it will be an honor to receive an invitation to this wedding. In fact it is such an honor, that the angel told John to write that those who are called are “blessed.”

6. Who are the Guests?
It is clear that the guests are not the bride. The bride would not be called or invited to her own wedding, without her there; there would not even be a wedding.

But there will be called guests. All those who have trusted in Christ from Pentecost down to the rapture belong to the church. The guests then will be the Old Testament saints such as David, Moses and Abraham. Even John the Baptist is in this category for he even called himself a friend of the bridegroom.

There will also be present a blood washed multitude that has come out of the tribulation.

The angels will be spectators of the scene, but they cannot be guests for that honor is reserved for only those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

7. What happens after the Marriage Supper?
What happens after every wedding? Sometimes there is music, dancing and food, but after this the bride and bridegroom will load up and go away together. Often it is a trip overseas or to a distant land. Sometimes it is a visit to an old hometown.

So after the marriage and marriage supper, the bridegroom and bride will load up and go on a trip back to the bride’s old home country. What a fitting place, for this is where they meet. It is where He demonstrated His love for her. When He comes back He will prove to her old family that He was no impostor, but that He was what He claimed to be, the Son of God.

He will then set up His earthly kingdom, where He will be given the throne of His father David and they will reign together for 1,000 years.

After the long honeymoon is over the bridegroom and the bride will go back to His father's house. After the earth has been baptized by fire they will return with the Holy City and abide in this city forever.

All this so overwhelms John that he falls at the feet of the angel to worship, but is told not to do that for the angel was nothing more than a fellow saint. Like John, I don’t think we can truly fathom how wonderful this event will be. Have you accepted your invitation?

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