December 12, 2011

Tuesday after the Third Sunday in Advent

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 90, Is. 30:8-17, Mk. 5:21
Evening - Ps. 91, Is. 30:18-26, Rev. 19

Commentary
Revelation 19

Rev. 6:9-11 shows the souls of the martyrs crying out to God to avenge their blood and punish their oppressors. Chapter 19:1-6 shows multitudes of people, the twenty-four elders, and the four beasts worshiping God and giving thanks to Him, "for he hath judged the great whore," and has "avenged the blood of his servants at her hand" (19:2). God has answered the prayers of His people and has poured out His wrath on those who persecute them. Therefore, they praise Him, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (19:6). It was very important for the Christians to "see" the fall of Rome in these chapters of Revelation, for they were being asked to endure persecution and death for the Gospel of Christ. They needed to know two things. First, they needed to know God has a place for them in paradise. Second, the persecutors cannot conquer God. He is omnipotent, and He will cast His enemies down forever. Thus, whether they live through the persecution, or give up their lives for Christ, the Christians are assured of victory, for their enemies are also God's enemies, and when God wins, they win.

Verses 7-9 contrast the sins of Rome with the purity of the Church using the images of the great whore and the virgin bride. The Church is both the bride of Christ, and those who are invited to the marriage feast (19:7 and 9). It is not unusual for Revelation to give more than one meaning to a symbol, as we saw in chapter 17, where the seven heads of the beast represent seven hills and seven kings (17:9-10).

Verses 10-19 show the Church, led by Christ Himself marching victoriously across the pages of human history. Christ goes forth to war on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven. He smites the nations with the sharp sword that comes out of His mouth. He rules the rebellious with a rod of iron and treads them in the winepress of His wrath. This symbolises His victory over His enemies. Again in verse 16 a title of Caesar is applied to Christ the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The final stand of the beast and its prophet is shown in verses 19-21. These, who have deceived many, forced many to worship Caesar instead of God, and poured out the blood of God's people, are conquered and cast into the lake of fire, along with all who followed them.