Teaching series from Revelation

The Victorious Return of Jesus

Revelation 19:1-21

Teaching t23021


Revelation is a series of visions concerning the end of the age and establishment of God’s kingdom. But it is more than simply a random collection of visions—it is a story complete with a plot, key characters in tension, a climax, and an aftermath (resolution following the climax). This morning we come to the climax (Rev. 19)—the victorious return of Jesus. This climax has three scenes, beginning with the description of the climactic celebration in heaven...

SCENE 1: Climactic celebration in heaven

Read 19:1-8. PICTURES OF V-J DAY CELEBRATION: Why were millions of people dancing in the streets of New York? Because the fascist enemies had been defeated, and the war was finally over! But this celebration will make the V-J Day celebration look sedate! Why? Because the long-anticipated turning point in human history has finally come:

“Babylon the Great,” that satanic spirit of deception that has perpetrated far more destruction than people like Hitler—are now totally and permanently defeated (19:1-4).

The righteous reign of God over the earth He created is now begun (19:5,6).

Those who belong to Jesus (who have already died and/or been raptured) are now to be with Him in a fuller sense and be rewarded for their service (19:7,8).

Having first heard this climactic heavenly celebration of Jesus’ return, John now sees a vision of His climactic return to earth...

SCENE 2: Climactic return to earth

Read 19:11-16. Jesus is the Rider on a white horse, which contrasts with the similar description of the beast in chapter 6. beast was a counterfeit ruler who brought war, destruction, and the murder of God’s people. Jesus is the legitimate Ruler who brings peace, healing, and rescue of God’s people.

Like the other visions, this vision is highly symbolic (white horse, tattoo on thigh, sword out of mouth, bloody robe, treading wine press). Most of these symbols are explained in Revelation or elsewhere in the Bible (as we’ll see), but they signify a literal reality—Jesus will return, and His return will be the dramatic conclusion of fallen human history as we know it.

If you are familiar with Jesus’ First Coming, then notice how the symbols in this passage are striking contrasts.

He came the first time in deliberate obscurity (cf. Isa. 53:2); He will come the second time in unmistakable glory (general’s “white horse” in a Roman Triumph).

He came the first time in isolation (MULTITUDES >> FOLLOWERS >> 12); He will come the second time accompanied by a great host of angels and redeemed humans (“armies” of 19:14).

Men mocked Him the first time as a false king by putting a crown of thorns on His head and a flimsy reed in His hand (Mk.15:17-19); He will come the second time revealed as God’s true ultimate King (“many crowns” of 19:12; “rod of iron” in 19:15; “King of kings” in 19:16).

When He came the first time, He was apparently defeated by His enemies (condemned, scourged, crucified); when He comes the second time, He will triumph completely over all His enemies (19:13 “robe dipped in blood;” 19:15 “sharp sword to smite the nations...tread the winepress of God’s wrath”).

Why such dramatic differences between Jesus’ two comings? Because of their different purposes. Jesus came the first time as the Savior/Lamb to die for humanity. He comes the second time as the King/Lion to judge and rule humanity.

Other non-symbolic biblical passages provide additional important details of this event. Consider these three details that Jesus added when He described His return in Matt. 24.

His return will also be heralded by unique disruptions of the created order (read Matt.24:29; EARTHQUAKE ). These events will confirm that Jesus’ return brings this age to an end, and they demonstrate His authority over the created order which will be cleansed and transformed by His return.

His return will be visible world-wide (read Matt.24:30). It will also be bodily (“they will see the Son of Man”). Jesus will return to the very place from which He ascended—the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem (read Acts 1:11,12; Zech.14:3,4a). This is yet another way that He will demonstrate His sovereignty over history—He dictates when, how and even where He returns.

His return will rescue His followers who remain alive (read Matt.24:31,13). These people will go into the first phase of His kingdom to repopulate the earth (NEXT WEEK).

SCENE 3: Climactic defeat of His enemies

Finally, John describes the climactic conflict between Jesus and his enemies (read 19:17-21). Like the vision of Jesus’ return, this vision is also highly symbolic.

This battle is called “the great supper of God”—not because God is hungry for human flesh, but because Jesus’ return results in the physical execution of His enemies—a grim supper for scavenger birds. Jesus will slay not only the Beast and his cohort the false prophet, but also all who have followed them and given their allegiance to the Beast.

This will be no raging battle in which the outcome hangs in the balance (like GETTYSBURG; IWO JIMA). When Jesus returns, it will be “Game Over.” Just as Jesus’ word healed and raised from the dead people who trusted Him, so His word will cast the beast and the false prophet into Hell (2Thess.2:8). Unlike war criminals who have escaped human justice by suicide or hiding, these two will not escape Jesus’ justice.

So what?

What do we do with this vision, this prediction, this promise that Jesus is coming back? The New Testament has much to say about this question—but they distill into two main answers.

Its first answer is that you need to entrust yourself to Jesus as the Lord before He returns. Read Acts16:30,31. Notice that Paul does not say: “Believe that...” Just intellectually agreeing that Jesus is the Lord will not rescue you. He says: “Believe in...” To believe in someone means that you put your personal trust in him/her; you decide entrust some meaningful part of your life to him/her.

Believing that some company is going to be profitable won’t give you one penny of profit. You have to believe in their promise by entrusting some of your money in them now. Believing that some surgeon can perform a life-saving operation won’t help your condition at all. You have to believe in him enough to sign the surgery permission and let them put you under.

In the same way, believing that Jesus is the Lord who will return to rescue the world will not result in your rescue. You have to believe in Him by entrusting your life to Him to rescue you. You have to put your personal trust in His death to forgive you and give you eternal life (Jn.3:16). Have you done this?

Its second answer is that you need to embrace a way of life that anticipates Jesus’ return. This is what Jesus said in Matt.24:42-44 (read).

If you knew that a burglar was going to try to break into your house on a given day, but you didn’t know exactly when he was going to do this, it would change the way you lived on that day. You wouldn’t leave the house. You wouldn’t take a nap. You wouldn’t get absorbed in a novel or a movie or You-Tube. You would definitely keep your cell phone with you so you could call the police the moment you saw the burglar. You would be on the alert. You would be ready.

In the same way, if you really believe that Jesus is coming back, it changes the way you live. You begin to live in a way that anticipates His return. The New Testament describes several aspects of living in light of Jesus’ return:

Read Acts 1:7,8. We should not focus on speculating about when Jesus will return. Instead, we should depend on His Spirit’s power to help us be His witnesses locally and globally.

Read 1Pet.4:7. Since Jesus is coming back, we should cultivate a lifestyle of prayer. The early Christians loved to pray Maranatha – “O Lord, come!” (1Cor.16:22). Praying this way will strengthen your hope in His coming kingdom instead of in this world’s false hopes. Jesus taught us to pray like Matt.6:9-13. Praying this way strengthen you to serve Jesus until He returns.

Read Jas.5:7,8. Since Jesus will bring true justice when He returns, we should patiently endure mistreatment and injustice until then instead of taking justice into our own hands.

DISCUSSION: What else is involved in this lifestyle of anticipating Jesus’ return? It would be great to refer to a passage connected to your response.

Phil.3:18-21 – rejecting temporalism (materialism and nationalism) because we are citizens of Jesus’ coming eternal kingdom

Acts1:7,8 - sharing Christ with others and facilitating global missions (Matt.24:14)

Rom.13:9-12 – being love-givers rather than takers, because we know that our futures are totally secure

1Thess.5:9-11 - being hopeful and encouraging/building up one another

1Cor.15:58 - being steadfast and immovable, and abounding in God’s work because Jesus will reward us when He returns

1Pet.1:13 - fixing hope completely on the grace that will be given when He returns

1Jn.3:2,3 – becoming more like Jesus since we will become like Him when we see Him

This is the great earthquake often mentioned elsewhere in Revelation (6:12; 11:19) and by other Old Testament prophets (Isa.24:19; Joel 3:14-16; Zech.14:4b).