1. And after these things, I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
2. For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand:
3. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
4. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
Vs. 1—4.—The frequent repetition of the Hebrew word "Alleluia" in this chapter, may perhaps be an intimation of something which specially relates to the Jews. The perpetuity of the covenant made with Abraham, renewed to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob, (Ps. cv. 9, 10,) is clearly taught in the Scriptures. (Gen. xvii. 7; Acts ii. 39; Rom. iv. 13; Gal, iii. 14, 29.)
It has been already intimated, (ch. xi: 15,) that at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, "there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he (Christ,) shall reign for ever and ever." Beholding the overthrow of Babylon, all the people of God were invited, (ch. xviii. 20,) to "rejoice over her," for her downfall was effected under the last trumpet and vial. With that invitation the saints here joyfully comply. "Much people in heaven," implies a great augmentation of their number, and as "heaven" signifies the church on earth, we are warranted to expect a rapid increase of her membership as the consequence of the sounding of the seventh trumpet.—At the pouring out of the third vial, (ch. xvi. 7,) the angel of the altar said, "True and righteous are thy judgments." The very same people, sentiment is repeated here by the "much "— all the saints. Thus they recognise the faithfulness and justice of God, as he heard and answered the cry of the "souls under the altar;" (c). vi. 9,10,) for he had now "avenged their blood" and that of their "brethren that had been killed as they were," upon them that dwell on the earth,—the population of mystic Babylon. (Ps. cxxxvii. 8, 9.) "And again they said, Allelulia; and her smoke rose up for ever and ever," liked that of Sodom. In all this, the ministry and members of the whole church cordially join, adding their hearty and solemn "Amen!"
For this protracted joy and exulting praise, two causes seem to be in operation, God's judgment on Babylon, and his mercy on Zion. Both are matter of praise. (Ps. ci. 1.)
5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
7. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8. And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Vs. 5—9.—This happy company are called upon to renew their song. The call seems to come from some one who is authorized to speak with authority, "out of the throne." All the servants of God are invited, and all appear to responded, "a great multitude," This is the most animated of all the examples of praise recorded in this book. It is compared to the rushing of waters down a cataract, as the roaring of the sea, or the rolling of thunder in the heavens. It is indeed the "voice of them that shout for mastery,"—and "all the people shout with a great shout, for the Lord hath given them the city"— "Alleluia, praise ye the Lord, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old." These joyful victors encourage each other to prolong their acclamations: "Let us be glad and rejoice," ..."for the marriage of the Lamb is come:" and what can that be, but the recalling of the Jews? This is the day of our New Testament Solomon's espousals, and the day of the gladness of his heart. (Song iii. 11.)—Not only the Jews, but the great majority of professing Christians during the 1260 years of Antichrist's usurpations, have refused to submit themselves to the righteousness of God."'(Rom. x. 3.) The kings of the earth also have fostered the pride and profligacy of the great whore, instead of the bride of the Lamb. The lewd woman, and the woman in the wilderness hitherto, are now to be distinguished. As their character and conduct are different, so is their raiment. The gaudy and splendid attire of the former, is in striking contrast with that of the latter; which is that of a "woman professing godliness," (ch. x vii. 4; 1 Tim. ii. 10.)—"To her was granted," Precious words; for the "Lamb's wife of herself was utterly destitute, (ch. iii. 17.) The Jews, in the day of their Messiah's power, (Psa. cx. 3,) convinced of the law as transgressors, will be brought to adopt the language of their own prophet, (Is. lxi. 10;) "he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." The righteousness of Christ imputed for justification, and the Spirit of Christ imparted for sanctification, together with good works, the visible evidence of both, will constitute the "fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints." This is, after all, a more costly, as well as more comely attire, than that of the mother of harlots. (Ps, xlv. 13, 14.)—"And he saith." That is, say some, the angel, (ch. xvii. 1, 7; or ch. xviii. 1;) but we are rather to view him as the same who brings all these messages from Christ to the apostle, (ch. i. 1.) The angel pronounces those "blessed who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb."—In the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, the invitation was to a dinner. (Matt. xxii. 4.) The day will have been far spent at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, when Jews and Gentiles are called to this supper. It will be the last great feast of the church militant. But who shall live to partake of the banquet? The angel gives his solemn attestation to "these sayings."
10, And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not; I am thy fellow—servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
V. 10.—This is a surprising incident,—an aged, experienced and holy man, an apostle, "falling down to worship the angel!" And we are told that he relapsed into the same sin, (ch. xxii. 8, 9.) Like Peter on the mount, who "wist not what to say;" or Paul in the "third heaven whether in the body or out of the body, he could not tell," (Mark ix. 6; 2 Cor. xii. 3.) John had become overpowered by the visions and transported by the high praises which he saw and heard. The like effects were experienced by Daniel, (viii. 18; x. 8, 17.)—This sin of idolatry by the apostle was doubtless permitted by the Lord, in order to furnish occasion for a testimony from the angel, against the "voluntary humility and worshipping of angels," (Col. ii. 18;) practised by the Papists, and to leave them without excuse.—The abrupt language of the angel in this and a subsequent case is strongly expressive of resentment:—"See not." Such is the curt, sententious utterance in the Greek text. He assigns the best reason and strongest argument against idolatry:—"I am thy fellow—servant," a creature as well as yourself: we are servants of one Lord, who alone is the object of our devotion, "Worship God." This is the best counsel, enforced by the most cogent reasoning,—."For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." This sentence may be read, "The Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus; " and it will be equally true. "To him give all the prophets witness," (Acts x. 43;) for "the Spirit of Christ was in them;" (1 Pet. i. 11;) and this fact is well known to holy angels, (Eph. iii. 10; 1 Pet. i. 12.) So this angel plainly declares.
11. And I saw heaven opened, and, behold, a white horse: and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True: and in righteousness he doth judge, and make war.
12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns: and he had a name written, that no man knew but, he himself.
13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the wine—press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture, and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Vs. 11—16.—"Heaven opened" once more, allows the apostle to look upon Messiah the Prince going forth to fresh conquests. As he began, (ch. vi. 2,) so he continues, "in righteousness to judge and make war;" not as the ambitious tyrants who "destroy the earth," (ch. xi. 18.) He has here three names,—"Faithful and True, The Word of God, king of kings and Lord of lords; yet he has a "name written which no man knoweth but he himself."—His infinite essence and eternal generation are incomprehensible by angels and men.—He is, however, known by his mediatorial titles,—"faithful and true" to all covenant engagements; as the prophet of the church, he "declares the Father," making known the "word of ;" and his lordship is at once a warning to his God, enemies and security to his friends.—"On his head were many crowns," emblematical of his numerous victories over the princes of the earth, especially the "ten kings," (ch. xvii. 14;)—"His eyes as a flame of fire," going though the whole earth "in every place," (Prov. xv. 3;) render it impossible for his enemies to elude discovery, (Jer. xxiii. 24.)—His "vesture dipped in blood," refers to his victories over all his malicious and impenitent foes. (Is. lxiii. 1—3; Rev. xiv. 20.)—His "armies on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean," are uniformed like their leader, (ch. xii: 7;) for "they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful," (ch. xvii. 14.)—The weapon with which he "smites the. nations" that oppose him, is the "sharp sword," an emblem of his ruinous and avenging justice; for he "treadeth the wine—press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."—"On his thigh," where he Wears his sword, there is a legible inscription, indicating his universal and rightful authority.
17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18. That ye 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 that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both · free and bond, both small and great.
19. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make War against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire, burning with brimstone.
21. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
Vs. 17—21.—The position of the "angel standing in the sun," and "crying with a loud voice;" represents, that Messiah's judgments would be visible to all the world; and the extent of the invitation to the "fowls," indicates the vast slaughter of his enemies. Babylon being "utterly burned with fire," (ch. xvii. 16, xviii. 8,) as a suitable punishment of an apostate church; the "flesh of kings, of captains, of mighty men," etc., as a sacrifice to divine justice, is given as a feast to the fowls of heaven. The allusion here is to the destruction of "Gog and Magog." (Ezek. xxxix. 17—20.) These enemies of the saints are to appear and be overthrown before the millennium; and although John borrows the names of these enemies, (ch. xx. 8,) they are not the same as those of Ezekiel; the one appearing before, the other after the thousand years. We have often found the enemies of the church called in the Apocalypse by the names of persecutors under the Old Testament;—Babylon, Egypt, etc.—We may consider the "fowls," the birds of prey, as symbolizing the kings who retaliate upon Babylon; (as in ch. xvii. 16;) or rather, as the Lord's people reclaiming their own, of which they had been unjustly and long deprived,—"spoiling the Egyptians." (Exod. xii. 36.) Some suppose that the confederacy of the "kings of the earth" with the beast, (v. 19,) is a distinct attack from that mentioned in chapter seventeenth; (v. 14;) but perhaps it is safer to consider it as the same, only more distinctly and fully exhibited here. Indeed it seems, from the agency of the "false prophet," to be the same event as that under the sixth vial, (ch. xvi. 14;) preparing to the battle of Armageddon. The Lord Jesus, as "captain of the Lord's hosts," and the army of heaven following him, all of them on white horses, appear to be on the one side; and the beast with the kings of the earth, instigated by the false prophet, on the other. The rank and file, like their leaders, are described as having "received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image." But the beast of the earth, (ch. xiii. 11,) causes all ranks to receive the mark, and worship the image of the beast, (vs. 15, 16.) The beast of the earth, the woman, and the false prophet, all mean the same thing; and that is, an apostate church in alliance with tyrannical civil powers, (ch, xvii. 3.) Now, if the great city Babylon, a symbol which comprises the whole antichristian confederacy, has been utterly destroyed, as appears in the eighteenth chapter, whence come these enemies, bearing the same characters? The only solution of this apparent difficulty is by supposing, as we have done, that this is a re—exhibition of what has been more obscurely symbolized, (ch. xiv. 20; xvi. 17; xvii. 16; xviii. 2, 8, 20,) in order more distinctly to point out the end of two principal leaders,—the "beast and the false prophet," the empire and church of Rome. "These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."—"The remnant were slain." When the leaders were discomfited, the ranks were soon broken, and the whole army melted away. They were slain with Messiah's sword, the emblem of his justice, (ch: i. 16.)
Thus "Babylon is fallen, to rise no more at all:" all the visible enemies of the Lord and his Anointed are cut off from the face of the earth: and it remains only that he who originated the rebellious conspiracy be put under necessary restraint.