The Two Feasts - Revelation 19
Table of Contents
After these things, I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd in heaven, shouting, “Hallelujah! The victory, the glory, the power of our God! For his judgments are true and just. He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her whoring. He has taken vengeance on her who has the blood of his servants on her hands.” And a second time, they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke goes up forever and ever!” The twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshipped God, sitting on the throne, and said, “Amen! Hallelujah!” A voice went out from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great!” Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd, like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying, “halleluiah! Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, has begun his reign! “Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his Bride has prepared herself— fine linen, bright and clean, has been given her to wear.” (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.) The angel said to me, “Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!’ " Then he added, “These are God’s very words.” I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Don’t do that! I’m only a fellow servant with you and your brothers who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship God! For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy.” Next, I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were many royal crowns. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, “THE WORD OF GOD.” The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations—“He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies. And on his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds that fly about in mid-heaven, “Come, gather together for the great feast God is giving, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of generals, the flesh of important men, the flesh of horses and their riders and the flesh of all kinds of people, free and slave, small and great!” I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to do battle with the rider of the horse and his army. But the beast was taken captive and with it the false prophet who, in its presence, had done the miracles which he had used to deceive those who had received the mark of the beast and those who had worshipped his image. The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that goes out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Parable of the wedding feast and wedding clothes – Matthew 22:1-14
Mat 22:1-14 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,  “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,  and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.  Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."’  But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,  while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.  The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.  “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  For many are called, but few are chosen."
This is a parable within a parable; we have the overall wedding banquet and then a parable of the wrong clothes nested inside.
Parable of the dinner invitation (Mt 22:1-14)
King = God
Wedding banquet = the messianic banquet in Revelation 19
Servants calling = the prophets and Yeshua issuing a call to repent
Those invited = those who heard the call (but did not necessarily respond to it)
The excuses = deceits of wealth and materialism
Killing the servants = murdering the prophets and Yeshua
Burned their city = the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE
Bad and Good = sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes
Meaning: those who do not repent will face punishment in this world and lose their place in the messianic banquet
Parable of the wrong clothes (Mt 22:2, 10-14)
Interestingly, this parable parallels the Talmud attributed to Yochanan ben Zakkai, a contemporary of Jesus. Could Zakkai have been in the crowd when Jesus gave the teaching?
King = God
Wedding banquet = messianic banquet in Revelation 19
Guests – those who enter the kingdom
Garments = righteous deeds, including repentance and keeping Jesus' commands (so “no garments” is a lack of repentance and deeds)
Outer darkness = Gehenna
Meaning: an invitation to the banquet does not guarantee a place at the table. We must respond to the invitation with repentance and righteous deeds done in His power, not our own.
Rejoicing in Heaven
Rev 19:1 Commanded to Praise
After this, I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
Psa 104:35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!
Here is another Meta Tauta – a scene shift.
Verses 1-5 could be placed with Chapter 18 – while there is mourning on earth, there is rejoicing in heaven. The martyrs have been vindicated.
Hallelujah is a Hebrew word Hallel – Praise; u – you plural; yah – short for YHWH – Adonai.
- Grammatically it’s an imperative in the Hebrew piel form – intensive, emphatic command to praise and worship God for his magnificent acts!
It appears four times in the first six verses.
The massive crowd in heaven praises God for taking down Babylon and assuming control.
Rev 19:2 Redeemer of Blood
for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality and has avenged on her the blood of his servants."
Psa 19:9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Deu 32:43 “Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.”
2Ki 9:7 And you shall strike down the house of Ahab, your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD.
Num 35:19 The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.
In capital cases, the design was for the guilt/innocence to be judged in an orderly trial; if guilty, it fell to the avenger of blood to execute the guilty.
In Hebrew, the phrase is “goel Haddam.”
goel is the same word for a redeemer.
Jesus is our Goel.
In a real sense, the seals, trumpets, and bowls were God’s trial for the earth-dwellers.
They were guilty and Jesus our Goel, our redeemer, did precisely what the Law required Him to do. Remember, He came not to abolish but to fulfill the Law.
Fulfills prophecy: Jer 51:48-49 Then the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, shall sing for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north, declares the LORD.  Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
Also, a response to Revelation 18:20 – “Rejoice over her”
We are forbidden to take revenge ourselves (Romans 12:19)
I would recommend we generally not gloat over the downfall of our enemies, but if God commands it, go for it!
This is the definitive reference to the blood of the saints, a recurring motif throughout the book.
Rev 6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Rev 16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!”
Rev 17:6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
Rev 18:24 And in her was found the blood of the prophets and kedoshim and all those slaughtered on the earth.”
Rev 19:2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
Rev 19:3 Smoke forever
Once more, they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever."
Isa 34:10 Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation, it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.
This speaks of Edom but applies to all cities that practice wickedness.
The imagery recalls the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19
Rev 19:4-5 Praising from the Heavenly Throne.
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great."
Psa 106:48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
Psa 115:12-13 The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron;  he will bless those who fear the LORD, both the small and the great.
Heavenly throne room imagery as we looked at in Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1.
Michael Heiser’s book “The Unseen Realm” is an excellent resource on God’s divine council.
The Messianic Banquet
Rev 19:6 Our God Reigns!
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Ps 97:1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Exodus 15:18 The LORD will reign forever and ever.
Isa 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Eze 1:24 And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings.
Eze 43:2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.
After I first became a Christian, I saw Amy Grant at the L.A. Forum in 1989 – before the concert, one side of the building chanted, “We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus, how ‘bout you?” and then the other side would respond in kind. I imagine something like that is going on here. The Martyrs give praise, which causes the elders to praise, which causes the throne, and then the great multitude to praise.
Speaking of music, Handel’s famous Hallelujah Chorus comes from Revelation 19.
Rev 19:7 Well-aged Wine
7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
In Jewish tradition, the messianic age was often portrayed as a wedding banquet, with God as the Groom and His called-out people as the bride. See Isa 54:1-8, Isa 62:4-5; Jer 31:31-32.
Exo 19:14-15 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments.  And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
Isa 25:6-9 On this mountain, the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.  And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Let us rejoice in our salvation!
Let us also remain a pure, spotless bride, undefiled by and separated from the things of this world.
Similar Apostolic imagery of the Messiah as the bridegroom and the inauguration of the Kingdom as a wedding is also found in Mat 22:1-14, Mat 25:1-13; Mar 2:18-20; Joh 3:28-30; Rom 7:1-4; 1 Co 6:13-20; 2 Co 11:2 and Eph 5:25-33.
Rev 19:8 – Righteous Deeds
it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
White fine linen evokes the High Priest’s garments for entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.
This is a definite contrast with the elegant dress of the harlot in Revelation 17:4.
Lev 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.
Note what the fine linen represents here – the righteous deeds of the saints.
But wait, I thought “all my righteous deeds were as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)?
This verse has been overused, likely pollution from the Enemy, to keep us from being the most effective for God’s service.
The specific context of Isaiah 64 is using deeds specifically with the intent to motivate God to move in our favor. Unlike the pagan gods, our God does not need to be bribed or coerced into action.
This is a far cry from saying every good deed is filthy, with the often unspoken assumption that we should not even bother to try.
In direct contrast to this misteaching is the Bible, which commands us to uphold the highest ethical standards of good deeds.
Some might say the linen is not our deeds but God’s righteousness imputed (transferred) to us.
Yes and no.
No, because that’s not what the verse says. The linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
But indirectly, yes, because we know we can only come to the Father through faith in Jesus by trusting in his death and resurrection.
This saving faith MUST necessarily translate into righteous deeds. This is what the book of James is all about.
Jas 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
We don’t do righteous deeds to get saved.
We do righteous deeds BECAUSE we ARE saved.
And yes, in some sense, we earn “spiritual points” in heaven for our good deeds as long as our motivation is from selfless love for others and not a selfish “look at me” standpoint.
Mat 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that others may praise them. Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Jesus doesn’t say, “don’t give to the needy because your righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”
He says WHEN you give to the needy, do so humbly and without expectation of praise by others.
Rev 19:9 You must be invited to the feast.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God."
Continues theme of Isaiah 25:6
Perhaps a more profound theological truth is at play here – you can’t invite yourself to the feast.
The Bible, notably Romans, says we are dead in our sins. A dead person can’t wake up on his own. So to be saved means God has to save you.
The Bible supports this.
The Bible also clearly supports those who will be at the great supper in Rev 19:17, where the birds of the air feast on the flesh of all men who choose to be there.
It’s a contradiction from our perspective. If you’re saved, it’s only by His grace; if you’re not saved, it’s because you chose to reject God’s way. (Be a Berean and test this theory against the Bible).
Rev 19:10 Only one angel allowed himself to be worshipped.
10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Col 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
We worship with the angels, not the angels themselves.
This is another stamp of authentication – if you and I were writing a book, we might be tempted to omit the times when we worshipped other beings besides God. There has been a fine line between the angel as the mouthpiece of the Messiah and the Messiah Himself. Here we are reminded that there is a distinction.
Only one angel insisted on being worshipped, and, by the end of the chapter, he’ll be in much trouble. Today’s faith healers would do well to take notice.
One interpretation of the last sentence is that all prophecy centers around the person of Jesus. Even the prophecies of the nations in Daniel 7 relate to Jesus’ returning to reclaim His rightful throne. Trying to discern what will happen next week or next year is not prophecy; it’s fortune-telling.
The Rider on a White Horse
Rev 19:11 Faithful, True, and Righteous
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, he judges and makes war.
Eze 1:1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
This is the second coming! Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yeshua has been given the authority to judge: John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
Faithful and true
Rev 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
Jer 42:5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the LORD your God sends you to us.
We’re reminded that while the preceding judgments are severe, the punishments are from a wholly (with a w) just God.
Isaiah 42:13 The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.
- Keener “The image may allude to God going forth as a warrior on behalf of his people (e.g., Isa 31:4; Isa 42:13; Isa 59:16-18; Hab 3:11-13; Zec 14:3; cf. Exo 15:3). This is the ultimate “holy war,” anticipated in the Old Testament, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, by the Zealots, and by other Jewish people.”
Talmud 98a: Rabbi Alexandri says: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi raises a contradiction between two depictions of the coming Messiah. It is written: “There came with the clouds of heaven, one like unto a son of man…and there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom…his dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Daniel 7:13–14). And it is written: “Behold, your king will come to you; he is just and victorious; lowly and riding upon a donkey and upon a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Rabbi Alexandri explains: If the Jewish people merit redemption, the Messiah will come miraculously with the clouds of heaven. If they do not merit redemption, the Messiah will come lowly and riding upon a donkey.
Rev 19:12 A name no one knows.
His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.
There are several references to Revelation 1-2, including Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
The “name no one knows” could be a stylistic way of saying no one has any power over Him.
As we saw with the demoniac at Gadera, the ancients believed that if you could name the demon, you then had the power to exorcise it.
Ancient pagan magicians claimed they could coerce spirits once they knew their names.
Eyes like a fiery flame references Rev 1:14 and Dan 10:6.
Rev 19:13-14 Robe dipped in blood.
13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
Isa 63:2-3 Why is Your apparel red and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?  “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.  For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.
Jud 1:14-15 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Compare also Revelation 14:17:20
It is fair to interpret this as the blood of Jesus' enemies, but Lancaster has a different theory.
Rev 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
What if the blood on His robe is HIS OWN BLOOD, by which He is able to remove the stain from our clothing and make our deeds righteous?
Reflect on that for a moment.
When we are with Jesus, somehow, we will be conscious that He suffered a brutal death on a hill outside Jerusalem about 2000 years ago.
We’ll have an eternity to reflect on that your sin and my sin caused His suffering – though it likely will not be from a position of shame but eternal gratitude.
It is also possible to interpret this as the blood of the Martyrs. Most commentators opt for believing it is the blood of Jesus' enemies.
Rev 19:15 strike with a rod of Iron
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
Isa 49:2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver, he hid me away.
Hosea 6:5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.
Isaiah 11:4 but with righteousness, he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
The sword was Rome’s symbol of absolute authority over life and death (as it is for Islam today); in the Bible, the sword is an image of God’s judgment.
Rev 19:16 King of Kings, Lord of Lords, forever and ever.
16 On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Deu 10:17 For the LORD, your God, is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
1 Sam 24:4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner (hem) of Saul’s robe.
This is unlikely to speak of a tattoo, as marring the body in such a fashion is forbidden by Jewish law. People are not to be branded as cattle - Lev 19:28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.
This could refer to the robe’s hem, which was often the location of military rank and insignia.
The hem symbolized authority, which is why David’s cutting off Saul’s hem is significant on several levels.
Jesus has ultimate authority over all.
From here, we could ask whether He is the King and Lord over your life; or have you accepted the free gift but not truly submitted it?
The Birds’ Feast
Rev 19:17-18 Which “Lord’s Supper” will you be attending?
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice, he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great."
This is the actual battle of Armageddon referenced in Chapter 16. It may be in the Jezreel valley, but other passages reference the “Valley of Jehoshaphat,” which is generally considered in Jerusalem.
As a symbol, birds (other than the Eagle) are almost always bad news in the Bible. They are the ministers of Satan.
Eze 39:17 “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood.
- The imagery of Revelation 19 is taken from Ezekiel 39, commonly known as the Magog Invasion. There is a bit of textual tension as we are at the beginning of the 1000 years; Revelation does not mention Gog and Magog until Revelation 20:8 after the millennium.
Gen 15:11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Mat 13:4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Mat 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
It’s curious that for fish and land animals, God provided categories of clean and unclean. Fish had fins and scales; animals had to chew the cud and part the hoof.
Birds, however, get a specific list by the name of those the Israelites are to consider detestable.
The unclean birds all have in common that they are flesh-eaters/scavengers/birds of prey. These are the birds circling in Rev 19:17.
Seed or insect eaters such as fowl (ducks, quail, chicken, turkey, pheasant, etc.) are not listed.
We recall the general mission of the book we learned at the beginning of our study: “although things are bad now, hold fast. The LORD sees all and will vindicate the suffering of His saints.”
The ultimate symbol of being vanquished is not being given a proper burial but instead letting the bodies be food for scavenger birds. Such words would have been a powerful encouragement to the persecuted Christians reading and hearing Revelation.
- Earlier in the book, Jesus mentioned Jezebel, who suffered a similar disgraceful (yet deserved) death by scavenger animals.
Clean and unclean food
When we talk about the Jewish dietary laws, it’s good to remember there are three categories, not two:
unclean animals (not food);
clean animals that are slaughtered or prepared improperly (unclean food); and,
clean animals prepared properly (clean food).
To an orthodox Jew, pork is not food at all, beef that is slaughtered by gunshot or found dead on the road is unclean food, not to be eaten; a cow that has its carotid artery severed with a super sharp knife and is allowed to bleed out painlessly is clean food and can be eaten.
By Peter’s own admission, the vision of the unclean animals in Acts 10 has nothing to do with food or removing dietary laws.
In Acts 11:12, Peter says the spirit told him to make no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The vision meant that Peter could now meet with Gentiles to preach and teach the gospel (far more significant than whether one should or should not eat pork).
Cornelius and the others were “God-fearers” (Acts 10:2).
A God-fearer was a particular class of Gentile who attached to the God of Israel but did not formally convert to Judaism.
God-fearers such as Cornelius ate according to the Jewish dietary laws.
A man-made tradition had arisen that Jews were not to eat with gentiles, even God-fearing Gentiles. Although, in some sense, it is an understandable conclusion, it is nowhere in the Bible.
Jesus previously forbid the disciples to teach the gentiles (Matthew 10:5-7).
The Gospel was for Israel first.
After the resurrection, the door was opened to the Gentiles (Matthew 28:18-20), but both Peter and Paul needed this to be supernaturally explained to them a little more clearly.
Rev 19:19 The nations rage
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.
Can you imagine the arrogance? “Hey, let’s go fight God!”
Of course, they are being controlled by spiritual instigators (see verse 20).
We must read Psalm 2
Psa 2:1-12 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,  “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury, saying,  “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”  I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”  Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Also, Joel 3:9-17.
Rev 19:20 Go to the lake of fire and fry.
20 And the beast was captured and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Ezekiel 38:22 With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.
Isaiah 30:33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king, it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.
Dan 7:11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.
Judgments by fire are standard in Jewish accounts of the end times, though being thrown in alive is unique to John’s account.
Why does Satan continue his attacks if he knows the end? He’s a madman with nothing to lose.
Fire and sulfur are cited as God’s means of punishment and destruction in the days of Sodom (Genesis 19).
Relevant other passages on Gehenna and judgment: Mat 3:10-12; Mat 5:22, Mat 5:29-30; Mat 10:28; Luke 12:4-5; Mat 13:40-43; Mat 18:8-9; Mat 23:15, Mat 23:33; Mat 25:46; Mark 9:43; Mark 9:48; Luke 16:23-24; Luke 17:29-30; 2 Th 1:8, Heb 12:29, 2Pe 3:7, Jude 1:7.
Rev 19:21 Birds gorge on the flesh.
And the rest were slain by the sword from the mouth of him sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
For the “rest,” see verse 18. Although it might seem that only the armies are slaughtered, the people/nations cheering on the armies are also invited for dinner.
We are given relatively few verses on the exact nature of the millennium and then the new heavens/new earth. It is difficult to piece together a comprehensive picture of what is happening.
The point is that we live in this age (literally in Hebrew Olam HaZeh, this age); we are promised the age to come (Olam Habah) but aren’t told much about it except that it will be wonderful. We defer to God’s perfect editing and anxiously await to see what will happen.
Regarding the sword from His mouth – one option could be that as the armies are lined up to face each other, Messiah will step forward and speak “Death.” The power of this word obliterates the opposition.