Revelation 19:21

Monday, 19 July 2021

And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:21

The armies were said to be gathered together in verse 19. In verse 20, the description of how the beast and the false prophet were dealt with was provided. Only now are the details of how the armies are to be dealt with provided. John describes what he sees, saying, “And the rest.”

This is stated in order to set the armies off from the beast and the false prophet. It does not negate their guilt (they obviously bore the mark of the beast), but their judgment will come later when the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11 takes place. Of these, John says they “were killed with the sword.”

This seems like a general term, meaning they were killed in battle and the sword was the implement used to kill each person. Such is seen countless times in Scripture. Ezekiel 32 is loaded with such descriptions, such as –

“Assyria is there, and all her company,
With their graves all around her,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword.
23 Her graves are set in the recesses of the Pit,
And her company is all around her grave,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword,
Who caused terror in the land of the living.” Ezekiel 32:22, 23

Proceeding on with John’s words, however, “the sword” takes on a different meaning, as he says, “which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.”

The meaning here is probably as simple as saying, “the armies were destroyed by the Lord merely speaking the word.” The command goes forth and it happens. This would be comparable to Jesus speaking the words, “Lazarus, come forth.” When He spoke, the event occurred.

Or it could be that the Lord gives a command, and His armies complete the task according to that command. Commentaries that dogmatically state that the armies with Christ have no part in the battle, even going so far as stating that nothing is said about them bearing swords, are useless. Such is an argument from silence. What is certain is that the armies will be defeated.

Of this, the Pulpit Commentary says, “Spiritual death is inflicted upon those who have proved themselves hostile to God.” This is incorrect and must be corrected. Spiritual death is the default state of all humans from conception. This is because of inherited sin. All people are born in sin, all people are spiritually disconnected from God, and all who die without being born again will be condemned. This is stated by Jesus, explicitly, in John 3:18 –

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

What occurs in this passage with these armies is the ending of their physical life. As they were never born again, their condemnation remains, and they will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire at the final judgment. As for their dead physical bodies, John finishes the verse and the chapter saying, “And all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

It is the banquet anticipated in verse 19:17. The indignity of being openly exposed and then consumed by the birds is the final lot for the hordes of soldiers that joined with the beast and the false prophet. It is a revolting end to their existence that will be followed by a horrifying judgment when that time comes.

Life application: These armies had joined with the kings of the earth to form the forces who have threatened to annihilate the people of the nation of Israel. We know this from the writings of the prophets, such as Zechariah chapters 12-14. Other Old Testament references reveal various details. It can also be discerned from Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:27-31 –

‘For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:27-31

He is returning to Israel after their time of refinement through the fire of the tribulation. Of the armies arrayed against Him, they have already heard and rejected the gospel which was proclaimed “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” as is recorded in Revelation 14:6, and therefore there will be no mercy for these unrepentant people.

The sword of Jesus’ mouth is the very word which spoke the universe into existence, which proclaimed peace through the plan of redemption of man, and which cried out in agony on the cross. God has done all these things and they have been rejected. The sentence will be completely just, and it will be carried out swiftly and with finality. And thus, all the birds that have been called together for the supper of the great God will be filled with the flesh of these people.

The offer of peace has been made to the world. Be sure to receive it before it is too late. No person knows the moment of his death. So, call out to God now for restoration. Call out to God for salvation through JESUS.

Glorious God – You are righteous, and You are just. We know that You will come to judge the world, and it will be completely fair when the sentences are pronounced. No one will be able to say that they weren’t deserving of what comes upon them. And so, we ask now for You to use us to spread Your message of peace before that time of condemnation comes. Amen.