The Rider on the White Horse destroyed the “Beast from the sea” along with the “False Prophet,” the “beast from the earth” – Revelation 19:17-21.
The next vision portrays the destruction of the “beast from the sea” and the “False Prophet.” The passage does not state where this climactic battle occurred, other than on the earth. In focus is the destruction of the “beast” and its vassals, and their consignment to the “Lake of Fire.”
The passage is part of the third main division of the book that began when John saw the “Great Harlot, Babylon” in the “wilderness,” which details the results of the “seven bowls of wrath” that completed the “wrath of God.”
In the second division, the reader was introduced to the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb” – the “Dragon,” the “beast from the sea,” the “beast from the earth,” and “Babylon.” Now, his adversaries are judged and destroyed in reverse order – “Babylon,” the “beast” and “False Prophet,” and finally, the “Dragon.” The language employed to describe the destruction of the “beast” is from Ezekiel’s prophecy of the attack on Ancient Israel by “Gog and Magog.”
- (Revelation 19:17-18) – “And I saw one angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, unto all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, Come here! Be gathered together to the great supper of God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them who sit upon them, and the flesh of all, both free and bond, and small and great.”
“He cried to all the birds…” Although the summons is drawn from Ezekiel, Revelation has changed the original “birds of every sort and the beasts of the field” to the “birds that fly in mid-heaven,” which provides a verbal link to two previous passages.
In chapter 8, the “angel” or “eagle” flying in “mid-heaven” announced three final “woes” that would befall the “inhabitants of the earth.” The “first woe” unleashed a demonic horde that tormented men, the second released the massive army from beyond the Euphrates that was “prepared for the hour and day and month and year” to kill a third of humanity, which parallels the “kings of the east” that were unleashed by the “sixth bowl of wrath” and gathered by the “beast” and the “False Prophet” to the final battle at “Armageddon.” Not coincidentally, the “kings of the earth” were summoned by “three demonic spirits,” which correspond to the “three woes” – (Revelation 8:13, 9:1-12, 9:13-21, 16:12-16).
The “third woe” produced the final victory of the kingdom of God, the vindication of the righteous dead, and the judgment of “those who are destroying the earth,” all on the Day of the Lord – (Revelation 11:15-19).
In chapter 14, the “angel flying in mid-heaven” proclaimed the “everlasting gospel to the inhabitants of the earth” to summon them to repentance because “the hour of judgment is come.” Two more angels followed suit. Again, not coincidentally, the warning was given three times. From then on, anyone who gave allegiance to the “beast” would drink the wrath of God and be “tormented with fire and brimstone” – (Revelation 14:6-11).
In chapter 19, the “birds that fly in mid-heaven” were summoned to the “great supper of God” with language that links the vision to the assault by “Gog and Magog” in Ezekiel:
- “Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, Gather together and come, gather from all sides to the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast upon the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and riders, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors, says the Lord Yahweh” – (Ezekiel 39:17-20).
In Revelation, the “Great Supper of God” corresponds to the “Great day of the wrath” of the “Lamb” in the “sixth seal” opening, and to the “great day of God the Almighty” that culminated in the battle at “Armageddon” in the “sixth bowl of wrath.” And it is conceptually parallel to the “sacrificial feast” described in Ezekiel – (Revelation 6:12-17, 16:12-16).
The birds were summoned to eat the “flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, and… the flesh of all men, free and bond, small and great.” Similarly, in the “sixth seal,” men from every level of society attempted to hide from the “wrath of the Lamb.” This represents divine justice. The “beast from the earth,” the “false prophet,” caused men from every class to render homage to the “beast from the sea.” Thus, the men “slain with the sword” to feed the “birds” portray the judgment of the same group, unrepentant humanity, that is, the “inhabitants of the earth.”
- (Revelation 19:19-21) – “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war with him who was sitting upon the horse and with his army. And the beast was taken, and with him, the false prophet who wrought the signs before him, whereby he deceived them who received the mark of the beast and them who were doing homage to his image, alive were they two cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. And the rest were slain with the sword of him that was sitting upon the horse, which went forth out of his mouth, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
The “beast” and the “kings of the earth” were “gathered” to “make war with” the “Lamb.” Previously, the “beast ascended from the Abyss to make war with” the “Two Witnesses,” the “Dragon made war with the seed of the woman,” and the “beast made war with the saints.” And when the “sixth bowl of wrath” was emptied, demon spirits from the mouths of the “beast and the False Prophet” gathered the “kings of the earth” to the “war” of the “Great Day of God, the Almighty” – (Revelation 11:7, 12:17, 13:7, 16:14-16).
In each of the preceding passages, “the war” is referenced in the singular number and with the definite article or “the,” and thus, the same conflict was in view in each case. And now, in chapter 19, the forces of the “beast are gathered to make war with” the “Lamb and his army.”
In all four related passages in Revelation, the references to “the war” against the “saints” borrow language from Daniel 7:21, the description of the war against the “saints” by the “little horn.” Likewise, the imagery from Ezekiel’s description of “Gog and Magog” was used when describing the “war” waged at “Armageddon” in the “sixth bowl of wrath.” The repeated use of language from these two Old Testament passages further demonstrates that, in each vision. the same final battle is in view.
The “beast and the kings of the earth gathered to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army.” Earthly forces cannot engage directly in battle with heavenly beings. Previously, the “saints” were called those who “tabernacle in heaven,” the same group against which the “beast” was authorized to wage war – the “saints” – the same group now called the “army” that follows the “Rider on a White Horse” – (Compare – Revelation 11:7, 12:17m 13:5-7, 16:14-16, 20:8-9).
The armies of the “kings of the earth” were destroyed and the “beast and the False Prophet” were “cast alive into the Lake of fire” that burns with “brimstone.” Likewise, in Ezekiel, the armies of “Gog and Magog” were destroyed on the “mountains of Israel” when God rained “fire and brimstone” upon them from heaven.
After the lengthy introduction to the battle, no description of the actual conflict is provided. It states simply that the “beast” and “False Prophet” were cast into the “Lake of Fire,” then their armies were rendered dead and fed to the “birds,” a perfunctory end to the long-anticipated battle.
“Alive were they two cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.” The clause alludes also to the prophecy of Daniel about the destruction of the “little horn” and the fourth “beasts from the sea”:
- (Daniel 7:9-22) – “I beheld even until the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire.”
“The rest were slain with the sword.” The “sword” wielded by the “rider” was the “word of God,” not a literal sword. The figure used his “sword” to “judge,” “make war,” and “shepherd” the nations of the earth.
Unlike the original prophecy in Ezekiel, the force represented by “Gog and Magog” is no longer limited to the regional nations surrounding Palestine. Instead, it consists of “all the kings of the earth and their armies.” And rather than attack Israel in Palestine, they wage war against the “Lamb and his army,” that is, the “saints.”
In Revelati0n, the “saints” are not passive observers but human believers who “persevere” through tribulations and give faithful testimony, even if doing so means their martyrdom. And it is no coincidence that the one offensive “weapon” wielded by the “Lamb” is the “great sword” that is “proceeding from his mouth,” the word of God.
Likewise, believers engage with and “overcome” the “beast,” the “False Prophet,” “Babylon,” and the “Dragon” by the “word of their testimony, and because they loved not their lives unto the death.”