LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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OPPOSITION TO THE END-TIME REVIVAL

 

 

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” Revelation 19:17–18

 

At the beginning of the nineteenth chapter we heard the voice of a great multitude in heaven. The rejoicing was over the exposure of religious Babylon; then we caught a glimpse the marriage of the Lamb; and, then we were given a renewed vision of the glorified Christ. From these things we learn the everlasting gospel energizes the end-time revival and we see this revival consolidating around the true and spiritual leadership of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now in verses 17–21 we find that the end-time revival does not go unopposed.

We learned that the angel standing in the sun represents the end-time ministry of the church continuing to preach the everlasting gospel. In these verses we notice that the message of the gospel is directed towards the birds that fly in the midst of heaven. These birds are not doves; instead they are carrion birds that are attracted to the corpses of the dead on a field of battle. This shows us a negative impact of the everlasting gospel. While accepting and obeying the everlasting gospel generates everlasting life, rejecting the everlasting gospel leaves people in spiritual death that leads to eternal death.

The everlasting gospel of necessity creates a spiritual separation. Those that accept and obey the everlasting gospel are gathered into Christ’s army during this end-time revival. However, those that reject the everlasting gospel share in the destruction of Babylon and in their spiritual death they become the prey of these spiritual carrion birds.

A similar battle is prophesied in Ezekiel 39:4–20 in which Gog of Magog is utterly defeated. The prophecy begins in chapter thirthy-eight where the prophet is told to set his face against Gog, of the land of Magog in verse two. There is a great deal of controversy over the person and location of Gog and Magog. From what we read in the prophecy, Gog is a king or military leader of a nation named Magog. Neither the Bible nor history records a nation called Magog nor a leader named Gog or any battle with Israel as described in the prophecy of Ezekiel chapters thirty-eight and thrity-nine. It stands to reason that this prophecy is spiritual in its application and does not describe a literal historical incident. Albert Barnes in his commentary understands this battle with Gog and Magog to represent more of a spiritual conflict that takes place close to the end of time. He wrote:

 

The last conflict of the world with God, and the complete overthrow of the former. This section (Ezekiel 38–39) refers to times subsequent to the restoration of Israel. As the Church (the true Israel) waxes stronger and stronger, more distant nations will come into collision and must be overthrown before the triumph is complete.

 

God prophesies against the person Gog in chapter 39:4, “You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.” Then God prophesies against this nation of Magog in verse six, “And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” Here is pictured the final spiritual defeat of everything that opposes the kingdom of God. The defeat is so complete that verse twelve tells us it takes seven months for the house of Israel to bury them and cleanse the land. God describes this cleansing of the land beginning in verse sixteen,

 

Thus they shall cleanse the land. And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: Assemble yourselves and come; Gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal Which I am sacrificing for you, A great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, That you may eat flesh and drink blood.

 

What Ezekiel calls a sacrificial meal in his prophecy, the angel standing in the sun in Revelation chapter nineteen calls “the supper of the great God.”

Verse nineteen goes on to show us the gathering of religious Babylon in opposition of the preaching of the everlasting gospel. “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”

In fighting against the glorified Christ on His white horse, here called His army, we see that the church in all its diverse and scattered locations around the world will be opposed and persecuted by the powers of unbelief here envisioned as the beast. Political beliefs will fight the church; godless religions will fight the church; and established apostate Christianity will fight the church. Why? Because the word of God properly taught destroys all that fallen humanity clings to in its denial of God and in seeking its own way to heaven.

The angel standing in the sun, representing the ministry of the everlasting gospel in the end-time revival now shows us the moral defeat of all these things in what he calls the supper of the great God.

 

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Verses 17–18)

 

Those birds flying in the midst of heaven are the doctrines and beliefs of everything man-made in religion, philosophy, and politics. When tested by the word of God they are found to be useless and lend themselves only to the destruction of the souls of people.

You will recall in the Book of Genesis that the butler and chief baker of the King of Egypt were thrown into prison where Joseph was unjustly made a prisoner. Both had dreams; in the baker’s dream he saw three baskets on his head all filled with baked goods. Birds came and ate everything in those baskets. Joseph told him the dream meant he would be executed in three days, which in fact did happen. The birds in the baker’s dream help us to understand these birds in this part of the Revelation. The baker was guilty of disloyalty to the king and the birds in his dream were emblems of that disloyalty. These birds here in the Revelation are religious spirits that possess people who reject the everlasting gospel and cling to false or apostate religion. Jesus taught about such spirits in Matthew 12:43–45,

 

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.

 

Even though the unregenerate world unifies in its fight against the end-time revival, it fails and its leadership is taken captive.

 

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.  Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Verses 19–20)

 

These false and apostate religions gather “together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” They see the visible church and what looks like an unorganized and incompetent mass of religious people that are holding fast to the everlasting gospel. What they do not realize is that they are not fighting against people; they are fighting against the one on the horse, the Glorified Christ. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:15 (KJV), “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” That power consists of the everlasting gospel anointed by the Holy Spirit. No religion devised by man and no version of worldly Christianity can withstand the absolute truth of the everlasting gospel. Nothing else can cleanse away sin, regenerate the soul and bring people into a right relationship with the Creator God.

The end of this battle results in every false and apostate religion along with their adherents, no matter how sincere they may have been, being cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. This lake of fire is often thought of as the eternal hell. While it certainly leads to that end, we must remember that this is a symbol in the vision. Barnes comments to this end: “There is no necessity for supposing that this is to be literally inflicted—for the whole scene is symbolical—meaning that the destruction of these powers would be as complete as if they were thrown into such a burning lake.” You will recall that third angel in Revelation chapter fourteen pours out the wine of the wrath of God, which is said to be “fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and the presence of the Lamb.”

That these religions and their adherents are thrown into this lake of fire suggests that as the everlasting gospel withstands and overcomes in the battle against false and apostate religion, those people become aware that their faith and religious practices have no validity in the presence of God. Sadly, this does not bring them to repentance. It brings them to a stubborn defiance of God and a total rejection of all God has made possible in the atonement. It is a spiritual hell that is the entrance to the eternal hell.

The chapter ends with verse twenty-one, “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.” Rather than repent and accept the everlasting gospel, the sword that proceeds out of the mouth of Christ, they resist and deny the truth even though it has become evident. Barnes comments on the effect of the sword: “That is, they were cut down by a word. They fell before him as he spake, as if they were slain by the sword. Perhaps this indicates that the effect that is to be produced when these great powers shall be destroyed is a moral effect; that is, that they will be subdued by the word of the Son of God.” The fowls, the spirits of false and apostate religion consume them and they are left in the torments of their religions that cannot save them.

Barnes summarizes chapter nineteen for us.

 

The general idea here is, that these great Antichristian powers which had so long resisted the gospel, and prevented its being spread over the earth; which had shed so much blood in persecution, and had so long corrupted and deceived mankind, would be subdued. The true religion would be as triumphant as if the Son of God should go forth as a warrior in his own might, and secure their leaders for punishment, and give up their hosts to the birds of prey. This destruction of these great enemies—which the whole course of the interpretation leads us to suppose is still future—prepares the way for the millennial reign of the Son of God—as stated in the following chapter. The “beast” and the “false prophet” are disposed of, and there remains only the subjugation of the great dragon—the source of all this evil—to prepare the way for the long-anticipated triumph of the gospel. This subjugation of the great original source of all those evil influences is stated in Revelation 20:1–3; and then follows the account of the thousand years’ rest of the saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment.

 

P.S. Barnes mentioned the millennial reign of the Son of God. We will look into the meaning of the one thousand year symbol in our next lesson.