The Climax of World History (contd.)
E. J. Strange, Bridgwater
In view of the necessary curtailment of our last paper, we will first of all pick up the threads. It will be remembered that we were going to look at three important features relating to the climax of world history at Armageddon. They were : the vision of the returning Son of Man, I he description of His retinue, and the retribution meted out to His enemies, gathered together to resist Him. The last paper ended with the description of the Son of Man as seen in vision by John. We shall, therefore, proceed to look at:
" The armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." (Rev. 19. 14). Who are they ? In 2 Thess. 1. 7. 8 we read "... the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God." Here then we get an answer to our question, In part at least, His followers in the hour of His victory will be angelic beings. These angelic beings are now " ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who are about to inherit salvation " (Heb. 1. 14). They arc, however, al all times the servants of Him who created them and the reader of The Revelation must recognize what an active part the angels take in the working out of God's purposes. They serve His power and proclaim His might. The activity of the angels in the appearing of the Lord Jesus is referred to in the parables. In that of the " wheat and tares " the Lord said, " The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity ; and shall cast them into a furnace of lire " (Matt. 13. 41, 42). Again, in the parable of the " sheep and goats " (Matt. 25) we read of the Son of Man coming in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him.
The. retinue, however, will consist not only of angels, but also of saints. In his comment on 1 Thess. 3. 13, Dean Alford writes, " We need not enter into any question whether these are angels or saints, properly so called. The expression is an Old Testament one and was probably meant by St. Paid to include both. Certainly He will be accompanied by the angels, but also with the spirits (?) of the just." (My interrogation mark, for the just will then have their glorified bodies). We also read, " When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory " (Col. 3. 4—Darby).
The armies of heaven are seated upon white horses. The imagery is consistent with triumph. Roman commanders always rode upon white horses in the triumphs accorded to them by the senate. When the first seal is opened, John sees a white horse and the rider goes forth conquering and to conquer (Rev. 6). The Lord appears upon a white horse and the armies following are similarly mounted, for they share in His triumph and victory.
Earth's forces are gathered together under the leadership of their self-exalting king. Heaven is opened and the God-exalted Son of Man is revealed with the hosts of heaven. Yet another host is gathered. " And 1 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 ' " (Rev. 19. 17). In the history of warfare it has been a common feature that carrion birds have gathered when a clash between opposing forces has been imminent. " Eagles are frequently represented in Assyrian sculptures attending the soldiers in their battles ; portraying the common feature in Eastern battlefield scenery of birds of prey awaiting to satisfy their hunger on the bodies of the slain." (Dr. Smith's Bible Dictionary). At Armageddon this gathering of the fowls of heaven will happen on a vast scale. Of the eagle we read in Job 39. 30, " Where the slain are, there is she," and we also remember the solemn words of the Lord, " wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together " (Luke 17. 37)'. The account of the clash is terrible in its stark brevity. The leaders of earth's hosts, the beast and the false prophet, are seized, and both are cast alive into a lake of fire, burning with brimstone. Their short day of pride and folly is now over. In their mad pride they set themselves against God's anointed, and are hurled into irretrievable min and eternal despair.
" 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 " (Rev. 19. 21). Thus in one fearful overthrow does the Lord deal with His enemies on the earth. " Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood ; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire " (Isa. 9. 5). " For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh : and the slain of the Lord shall be many " (Isa. 66. 16). "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed ... in flaming fire, taking vengeance . . . " (2 Thess. 1. 7, 8). Such statements are a very salutary reminder that the God of Love is the God of inflexible righteouncss who has said, " Vengeance is mine."
But what of the arch-enemy, the originator of sin, the one who gave his power to the beast, and the prime mover hi every act in man's history that has been hostile to God ? What will be the lot of the old serpent, the devil ? He is bound in a great abyss for one thousand years so that during the Millenium ho may not deceive the nations of the earth (See Rev. 20. 1-3).
With every foe subdued, the Lord Jesus will come back to the earth where He lived as the Man of Sorrows, and where He died on a cross of shame to set men free from their sins. He will come as the all-conquering Lord to take the inheritance that, is His. " The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ ; and He shall reign for ever and ever " (Rev. 11. 15). We exclaim with heart and voice in prospect of that glorious day, " He is Worthy."