The Rider on the White Horse destroyed the “Beast from the sea” along with the “False Prophet,” the “Beast from the earth” – Revelation 19:17-21.
Next, John saw the destruction of the “beast from the sea” and the “False Prophet” at the final battle when the “rider on the white horse” overthrew the forces of “Gog and Magog.” The passage does not state where this occurred, other than on the earth. In focus is the destruction of the “Beast” and its vassals, and their consignment to the “Lake of Fire.”
The passage is part of the third main division of the bookthat began when John saw the “Great Harlot, Babylon” in the “wilderness.” This division details the results of the “seven bowls of wrath” that complete the “wrath of God.”
In the second division, the reader was introduced to the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb” – the “Dragon,” the “Beast from the sea,” the “Beast from the earth,” and “Babylon, the Great City.” In the third division, his adversaries are destroyed in reverse order – “Babylon,” the “Beast” and “False Prophet,” and finally, the “Dragon.” The language employed to describe the scene is from Ezekiel’s prophecy about the attack on Israel by “Gog and Magog.”
- (Revelation 19:17-18) – “And I saw one angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, unto all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, Come here! Be gathered together to the great supper of God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them who sit upon them, and the flesh of all, both free and bond, and small and great.”
“He cried to all the birds…” Although the summons is drawn from Ezekiel, Revelation has changed the original “birds of every sort and the beasts of the field” to the “birds that fly in mid-heaven,” which provides a verbal link to two previous passages.
In chapter 8, the “eagle” flying in “mid-heaven” announced the three final “woes” that would befall the “inhabitants of the earth.” The “first woe” unleashed a demonic horde that tormented men, the second released the massive army from beyond the Euphrates that was “prepared for the hour and day and month and year, which parallels the “kings of the east” that were unleashed by the “sixth bowl of wrath” and gathered by the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” to “Armageddon.” Not coincidentally, the “kings of the earth” were summoned by “three demonic spirits,” which corresponded to the “three woes” – (Revelation 8:13, 9:1-12, 9:13-21, 16:12-16).
The “third woe” produced the final victory of the kingdom of God, the “seventh trumpet,” with the vindication of the righteous dead and the judgment of “those who were destroying the earth” – (Revelation 11:15-19).
In chapter 14, the “angel flying in mid-heaven” proclaimed the “everlasting gospel to the inhabitants of the earth,” summoning them to repent, for the “hour of judgment had come,” and the warning was given three times. From then on, anyone who gave allegiance to the “beast” would drink the “wrath of God” and be “tormented with fire and brimstone” – (Revelation 14:6-11).
Now, the “birds that fly in mid-heaven” are summoned to the “great supper of God,” using language from the assault by “Gog and Magog” predicted in Ezekiel.The “Great Supper of God” corresponds to the “Great day of the wrath” of the “Lamb” from the “sixth seal” opening, and to the “great day of God the Almighty” that culminated in the battle at “Armageddon” when the “sixth bowl of wrath” was emptied – (Ezekiel 39:17-20, Revelation 6:12-17, 16:12-16).
The birds are summoned to eat the “flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, and… the flesh of all men, free and bond, small and great.” Similarly, when the “sixth seal” was opened, men from every level of society attempted to hide from the “wrath of the Lamb.” The “Beast from the earth,” the “false prophet,” caused men from every class to render homage to the “Beast from the sea.” Thus, the men now “slain with the sword” to feed the “birds” pictures the judgment of the same group, unrepentant humanity, the “inhabitants of the earth.”
- (Revelation 19:19-21) – “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war with him who was sitting upon the horse and with his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought the signs before him, whereby he deceived them who received the mark of the beast and them who were doing homage to his image, alive were the two cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. And the rest were slain with the sword of him that was sitting upon the horse, which went forth out of his mouth, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
The “Beast” and the “kings of the earth” are “gathered” to “make war with” (poiésai ton polemon meta) the “Lamb.” Previously, the “Beast ascended from the Abyss to make war with” the “two witnesses,” the “Dragon made war with the seed of the woman,” and the “beast made war with the saints.” And when the “sixth bowl of wrath” was emptied, demon spirits from the mouths of the “Beast and the False Prophet” gathered the “kings of the earth” to the “war” of the “Great Day of God, the Almighty” – (Revelation 11:7, 12:17, 13:7, 16:14-16).
In each passage, “the war” is referenced in the singular number and with the definite article; it is THE war. Thus, the same conflict is in view in each case. And now, the forces of the “Beast are gathered to make war with” the “Lamb and his army.” In all four passages, the reference to “the war” borrows language from Daniel 7:21, the description of the war against the “saints” by the “little horn.” Likewise, the imagery from Ezekiel’s vision of “Gog and Magog” was used previously to describe the “war” waged at “Armageddon” in the “sixth bowl of wrath.” The repeated use of language from both Old Testament passages demonstrates that the same final battle is in view, in each of the four passages.
The “beast and the kings of the earth gathered to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army.” Earthly forces cannot engage directly in battle with heavenly beings. Previously, the “saints” were called those who “tabernacle in heaven,” the same group against which the “Beast” was authorized to wage war, the “saints,” and the same group that now is called the “army” of the “Lamb” – (Compare – Revelation 11:7, 12:17m 13:5-7, 16:14-16, 20:8-9).
The armies of the “kings of the earth” are destroyed and the “Beast and the False Prophet” are “cast alive into the Lake of fire” that burns with “brimstone.” Likewise, in Ezekiel, the armies of “Gog and Magog” were destroyed on the “mountains of Israel” when God rained “fire and brimstone” on them from heaven.
After the lengthy introduction to the battle, no description of the actual conflict is provided. It states simply that the “Beast” and “False Prophet” are cast into the “Lake of Fire,” then their armies are rendered dead and fed to the “birds,” a perfunctory end to the long-anticipated battle.
“Alive were the two cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.” The clause alludes also to the prophecy from Daniel about the destruction of the “little horn” and the fourth “beasts from the sea”:
- (Daniel 7:9-22) – “I beheld even until the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire.”
“The rest were slain with the sword.” The “sword” wielded by the “rider on the white horse” is the “word of God,” not a literal sword. The figure uses it to “judge,” to “make war,” and to “shepherd” the nations of the earth.
Unlike the original prophecy from Ezekiel, the force represented by “Gog and Magog” is no longer limited to the regional nations surrounding Palestine. Instead, it consists of “all the kings of the earth and their armies.” And rather than attacking Israel in Palestine, they wage war against the “Lamb and his army,” that is, Jesus and his “saints.”
In Revelati0n, the “saints” are not passive observers but human believers who “persevere” through tribulations while maintaining faithful testimony for him, even when doing so results in death. And it is no coincidence that the one offensive “weapon” that is carried and wielded by the “Lamb” is the “great sword” that John saw “proceeding from his mouth” – The word of God.
Likewise, believers engage with and “overcome” the “Beast,” the “False Prophet,” “Babylon,” and the “Dragon” by the “word of their testimony, and because they loved not their lives unto death.”
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