SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The chapter begins with God receiving worship for the destruction of Babylon.
- In this section heaven is spoken of as a wedding feast (verse 9). This is similar to some teachings Jesus gave, in Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24.
- In this wedding, Jesus is the groom and his people/church as the bride. Other places in the Bible where we get this idea include John 3:29, Mark 2:19, and Matthew 25:1-13.
- After God receives praise and worship for the destruction of Babylon, John experiences a vision of a rider on a white horse. Who, from the names and description, we know is Jesus. He comes to strike down the nations that have gathered in support of the beast (introduced in chapter 13) to make war against God. This is the final battle, the war of Armageddon. Little description of the conflict is given here, but we are told the outcome: the beast and false prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire while the rest are killed by Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The characterization of Jesus as a warrior who wears a “robe dipped in blood” seems very different from what we hear in the gospels. It may even seem contradictory - for instance, in the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us to love our enemies but in Revelation he slaughters his. But it's not contradictory. The idea is that people who deserve justice will receive justice, but it's God's job, not ours, to give it to them. We are to love people, even those who don't deserve it. God loves everyone, but will punish those who deserved to be punished. (And we should actually be glad for that. If not, God would not be just. Would you admire a human judge who let all those found guilty in his courtroom go free because he was nice?)
- Here's how our roles are described in Romans 12:17-21:
- "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are you still confused by the (necessary) justice and wrath of a loving God? If so, talk to God about it. Ask him to help you understand.
- Your role is to love people, even your enemies. How are you doing with that? Who is a person you find it hard to love, or perhaps you even hate? How could you, with God's help, show them love? What could you do this week?