You may have heard about the small church that was on the interstate and every time trucks would go by with their CB radios, some of the frequencies would get caught up into the PA system of the church which could be confusing. In fact, one time after a message the pastor was praying with his congregation and saying Lord we just pray that You would come and be with us and be present with us and as he was saying that, his prayer was interrupted by, "10-4. I'll be right down." You can imagine hearing a voice, "I'll be right down," what they must have thought in that church service that morning. One day the world will be really surprised at the second visit of Jesus Christ to planet earth. His return. It will be permanent. It will not be a short stay of three-and-a-half years. He will come to set up His kingdom and His Second Coming will be very different from His first coming. He will not come as a helpless child in a manger but as the warrior King to rule the earth. He will not be gentle Jesus meek and mild when He first comes from heaven and we see that in Revelation 19. You might say He'll be strong Jesus mighty and riled because He comes, it says, to make war and to judge. Remember the name of this book? It's called The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And that's the title given from the very first verse in the book: the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 19 is the ultimate revelation. It's not just being revealed through His deeds but He is really being revealed from heaven as He comes back. Much of the world is familiar with His first coming. Even the unbeliever is familiar with the fact that there was a baby named Jesus born in a manger over in Bethlehem and they know the story about the magi coming from the East, following the star across to Bethlehem. They've heard about the gold and the frankincense and the myrrh and the shepherds gathered around and the angels making the proclamation to the shepherds. The world has heard of His miracles and they know of His crucifixion and His resurrection but very little about His Second Coming. In fact, I would say the church, by and large, is largely ignorant about exactly what the Second Coming will be like. And yet it's spoken about, as we saw last week, even more than His first coming. Moreover, the world doesn't want the kind of Jesus that will come at the Second Coming. They want a manageable infant that they can put up on store windows and as manger scenes at home. That's it. As one person put it, the world likes a complacent, reasonable religion and so it is always ready to revere some pale Galilean image of Jesus, some meager, anemic Messiah, and to give Him a moderate, rational homage.
Revelation 19 portrays a Jesus out of their control. One who demands honor and submission of all the kings and all the people of the earth. This event is the culmination, really, of history on earth. It's the watershed event. It's when all of the accounts are settled. It's when the righteous are rewarded. It's when the wicked are judged. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It's also the time when He will set up an everlasting kingdom. And this was hinted at when Jesus talked to His disciples whom the Bible said were expecting the kingdom of God to appear immediately. And He gave them a parable of a certain nobleman who went to a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. Here we see the nobleman returning in the kingdom. When Jesus returns, where will we be? What will it be like? What will we be doing? What will be the final fate of those who reject Him? What will that coming be like exactly? These questions are all answered in chapter 19.
It's funny how Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and Origen from Alexandria all believed that when Jesus comes back, the world would be under literal darkness and a blazing cross would come out of the sky in glory. That would be the sign of the Coming of the Son of Man. Well we see the sign is really the Coming of the Son of Man. It's just His appearing on the earth. So we're gonna read our text again from verses 11 down through 21 and it's a text that we read last week and we have the same outline in your bulletins. We saw last week the coming of the King was talked about and we talked about what the King is called by, the various names, at His Second Coming. Today we're gonna look at the King as characterized by His appearance and by His attire and by His action. Then we're gonna see that the King is accompanied by the armies of heaven and finally, the King is conquering with His almighty power. Well let's look at it and then we'll make comment on it again:
"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 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." 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. 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."
We're going to look at how the King is characterized, first of all, by His appearance at His coming, by His attire, and by His action. Now something to keep in mind as we go through this text once again and that is, there's a mixture of symbol and reality. John is seeing visions of heaven. And he's seeing all sorts of signs, symbols, and some of the language of symbolism and some is literal language. And even all the symbols point to the reality. Some people ask me after reading this text, does this mean there are real horses in heaven? No. I don't think so any more than when Jesus comes there's myriads of crowns dangling off of His head or there's a literal sword coming out from His lips or that He's walking around the earth with a big iron club ready to bash the skulls of people in or any more that we ride back on white horses ourselves. There's nothing in the Scripture that indicates horses are glorified, like people are. And so these are symbols like the book of Revelation all speaks of reality but the horses are symbolic and the sword is symbolic and the rod of iron is symbolic. But His coming is a reality. They all speak of that. So the King is characterized at His Second Coming by what He looks like, by His appearance. Notice it says He is sitting on a white horse. And the horse was the ancient animal of warfare and kings sat on white ones. Remember when Jesus came the first time, He rode what? A donkey into Jerusalem which was the animal of peace. Kings rode donkeys in times of peace. But they rode white chargers in times of war and especially after a victory. This scene is like the pattern of the Roman armies after they would conquer a nation. The general would ride through the main street of Rome with the vanquished armies behind him. He would ride down the Via Sacra, the main street of Rome. The slaves would be tied behind him and he would sell them to the slave markets or put them in the prison. Behind him on wagons were the spoils of warfare and then he would march up to the Temple of Jupiter and he would enter into his glory. That's the vivid imagery that John sees at the Second Coming and anyone reading that, especially in Roman times, would be very, very taken by it.
It says besides that His eyes are a flame of fire. That is, He has a penetrating gaze. Nothing escapes His notice. Remember the writer of Hebrews was the one who said there is no creature that is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of whom we must give an account? He sees it all. Every action and every motivation and it says His eyes are a flame of fire. Remember fire symbolizes judgment. On the altar of sacrifice, the fire consumed the offering. It's where sin was dealt with, sin was judged. It's a very different Jesus than John saw when Jesus walked on the earth. When He walked on the earth the first time, He had those eyes of compassion. He had eyes that wept at the tomb of Lazarus and wept over the city of Jerusalem. He had the eyes that, when He looked at Peter, melted him into repentance after Peter denied Him. But now He comes with His eyes flashing in judgment. Flames of fire. John had not seen Jesus this way but he sees Him this way now at His Second Coming. Before we move on, a question. Do some of you see Jesus one-sided? Have you ferreted out of the Scripture all of the Scriptures about Jesus coming as the great Judge of all the earth and coming to execute the wrath of God? Nobody likes to talk about that but I'm afraid that some people have a one-sided Jesus. They have just removed all of those Scriptures and they have concocted their own idea of Jesus like His first coming. That's how Jesus is and will always be, they think. The kind who patted little children on the head and took up stray animals or whatever stories that they would make up of Him. But He will come as a Judge with His eyes a flame of fire.
Let's look at His attire---what He's wearing. Verse 12: "His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns." Diadems. The crowns of the kings of the earth now He is wearing. There is a single rule. Nobody else is ruling in His place. Now I think this is significant because you remember in chapter 12, Satan has how many crowns? Seven. In chapter 13, the Antichrist is wearing ten crowns. But at this event, only Jesus is wearing a crown and He's wearing all of them. Whenever a general would take over another nation, he would often symbolically wear the crown of the very kingdom that he conquered, showing that he is now in control of that kingdom. When Ptolemy conquered Antioch, he wore two crowns. One, the crown the Egypt, and the other the crown of Asia, symbolizing an extensive rule. Jesus Christ will wear them all. It's a fair exchange, isn't it? He wore a crown of thorns at His first coming put upon there by men. Now He wears the crowns, the diadems, of the kings of the earth. In chapters 4 and 5, there are 24 elders and they cast their crowns before Him. It's a willing thing. They're saying, You're the King, You deserve all the praise and the worship, You deserve to rule and we're to honor You. Now let me ask you a question. Have you cast your crown, so to speak, before Him? Have you yielded the sovereignty of your life over to Jesus Christ? Have you said Lord, I'm gonna let You control my life, be the King over my life, I'm gonna make my decisions based upon Your will and not my own? That's really what He wants. That's His kingdom. Prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, she sent out invitations. I say invitations in quotes because I'm about to read one to you. Invitations to all of her relatives, friends, and people that worked around the kingdom. And she wrote it this way: "We greet you well whereas we have appointed the 2nd day of June, 1953, for the solemnity of our coronation. These are therefore to will and to command all excuses set apart that you make your personal attendance upon us at the time above mentioned, there to do and to perform such services as will be required of you." That's the invitation. And the point to be made is simply this. A queen doesn't request somebody's attendance. She requires their attendance. And how much more the King of all of creation, Jesus Christ, when He comes back to rule and to reign, wearing the crowns of all the earth?
Verse 13: "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood". That's kind of strange. This is His grand appearance. His second visit. But He has stained clothes when He comes back. Why? Because this is the great showdown of the earth. This is Armageddon. Remember, when He comes back to put a stop to this battle that has been raging in the Middle East or the kings that have gathered, at least, to make a war. And his vesture is dipped in blood. This is the big showdown. I was reading this week about what scientists have called their doomsday clock. And it seems there's a group of atomic scientists that have made this clock and they are setting the time based on their prediction of the end of the world. The end of the world by a nuclear annihilation. In 1991, they set the time of their clock the furthest from midnight it had been in a long time. They set it to 11:43. The closest it ever came to midnight was back in 1953 after the U.S. tested the hydrogen bomb. The clock was set at 11:58---two minutes before midnight. But there have been peace treaties, there have been negotiations, there's been the fall of Communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so they have thought well, you know, maybe things are getting better. We'll set the clock back. But you know God has His own clock. And God doesn't see a temporary treaty or a little ripple where people are negotiating and say, well, you know, maybe I'll change the time here a little bit. There's a steady ticking away of God's clock to where, eventually, the world will gather against Him. We hinted at it and we'll read it in just a moment, to fight Him. But He will come back with His vesture or robe dipped in blood. What blood? Now you might say well that's probably His own blood from the cross, the atonement that is shed, it's symbolic. It is not. Remember this is the image of a conquering king. He's coming back with His vesture or garment dipped or spattered, really, with their blood. The blood of His enemies. You say how do you know that? Well, in Isaiah chapter 63, you could turn there or I'll read part of it to you, there is a parallel passage to this. It's the same event predicted by Isaiah and it's the same imagery. The question is posed: "Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength---? "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." They ask Him this question: "Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?" He says: "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come." That's the parallel passage. We read in Revelation 14 and 16. It's the battle of Armageddon and the same imagery is mentioned in those chapters, treading the winepress and the spattering of the grapes, spattering the garments, the dipping of the blood or the spattering of the blood at this battle.
Look back at verse 11 once again and we see that the King is also characterized, not only by His appearance and by His attire, but by His action---what He does. It says "in righteousness He judges and makes war." Now this is again odd because He's called in Scripture the Prince of Peace. And yet He's coming to make war. Actually, He's coming to stop a war before it even breaks out. but this Prince of Peace is not just coming because He wants to fight. He's coming in righteousness. This is His holy and righteous response to a sinful world. In righteousness He judges and makes war. Remember when Jesus came the first time, wicked men judged Him. When He comes the second time, He will judge wicked men. Remember when He came the first time, He stood before Pilate and then Caiaphas and then Annas and they judged Him unrighteously. He will come back as everyone's King and He will judge and He will do it righteously. Why will He judge? It's not like He's been waiting for this time. It's not like He's been in heaven wringing His hands going, I can't wait to get My hands on this earth! No. He wanted to save. He came, He said, to seek and to save that which is lost. But because the world has spurned Him as their Savior, He is now left to be their Judge. I was reading a story about, in the frontier days, there was a horse that was attached to a wagon and the wagon was left unattended by the parents and there was a little child in the wagon and something spooked the horse and the horse took off across the prairie, pulling this wagon, uncontrollably, it wouldn't stop. A man who watched this happen knew that unless he rescued that child it would be probably death for that child. So he ran off across the plains after the wagon, rescued the little child, and the little child grew up to become a criminal. And one day the child grownup, the criminal, was now in court facing a judge and he noticed that his judge was the very man who rescued him when he was a kid. And so he said you rescued me once. I come to you based on your mercy. Rescue me again. He said young man, then I was your savior but today I'm your judge. And I must sentence you to be hanged for what you've done. Jesus came as the Savior. The world said we don't need a Savior! We don't want a Savior! And during the tribulation, men and women will shake their fists at God over and over and over again. And so He will finally come as Judge in righteousness to make war.
We're also told that He will rule with a rod of iron. We read that in Psalm 2. It's also mentioned in Isaiah 11. It simply refers to His absolute, unyielding control. He is in charge. He runs the government. There are no appeals. Verse 15, His action is also mentioned, "He Himself treads with winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." Every summer in Israel there was the harvest of the grapes. From July through September grapes were harvested and put in vats and people would just stomp on them barefooted and the juice would spatter all over their garments and over everybody else's garments that were close enough to watch this event. They got stained with the juice of the grapes. That's the imagery of this battle of Armageddon. A total, absolute wipeout, speaking of the spattering of blood of those who are destroyed. So once again, we see a different kind of Jesus at His Second Coming. A different kind of approach, I should say, than at His first coming. At His first coming, He was healing the sick and ministering to the needy and casting out demons and bringing peace to troubled hearts and saying the kinds of things that would release people of their burdens. But it's different now. He's no longer on a humble donkey. He's riding a fiery, white charger. He's not coming with eyes filled with tears but eyes flashing with judgment. He is not wearing a mocking crown of thorns, but all of the diadems of the rulers of the earth as the King and as the Lord. Instead of being bloodied by His enemies, His robe is dipped in their blood. And instead of being abandoned by His followers, like Jesus was before the cross, He has now the armies of heaven gathered with Him as they come back to the earth. So though people have mocked and have scorned this whole idea of Jesus coming, and they have repeatedly said, as Peter even mentioned, where is the promise of His coming? My grandmother and their grandmother talked about it. One day He will come and it will be a shock to the earth.
Now let's see that the King is also accompanied by an army. We saw that the King is characterized by some things. We now see in verse 14 the King is not alone when He comes back. He's accompanied. "And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses." Who are they? Who's coming back with Jesus at this event? Well let the text answer it. Verse 8 speaks of the church, the bride of Christ, we already discussed that. To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright. Same clothing. For the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. So this would have to be the church---His bride, His saints. Nothing new. Paul the apostle, in Colossians 3, said when Christ, who is our life, shall appear we shall appear with Him in glory. Imagine what that's gonna be like. Coming back, descending, following your Master to the earth at this event. Talk about a Holy Land tour. He will be your personal guide as you enter Jerusalem for that momentous event. But I don't think it's just the church. I want you to notice it says, armies, that's plural not singular. There's not just one army; there are many of them. there's a group of them. They're also the tribulation saints, those who were martyred during the tribulation, in chapter 7 verse 9; they're described as those clothed with white robes. They'll also come back. Also Jude 14 says behold He comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment. He's referring to what Daniel and Zechariah spoke about, all of the Old Testament saints, as well. Then I think there's another group coming---angels. Angels are coming back as well because Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 25, the Son of Man will come in His glory and all of His holy angels will come with Him. There have got to be a lot of angels. A third of them fell and became demons. Two-thirds are left. This is gonna be quite an entourage when heaven opens up and Jesus comes to the earth with all of those people and all of those angels.
Now I want to touch on something before we move on. It's something we mentioned last time. Even a casual study of this chapter, just a quick glance, would tell us that this Second Coming of Jesus is very different from the Rapture of the church, which we've hinted at in the book of Revelation, especially in chapter 4. It's a very different event. Yet some people confuse these events. They're very different. For instance, at the Rapture Jesus comes for His church. At His return, He comes with His church. At the Rapture, Jesus comes in the air and we meet Him---we go up. 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. At His return or Second Coming, Jesus comes through the air and all the way down to planet earth. At the Rapture, He claims His bride. At His return, He comes with His bride. At the Rapture of the church, only His own will see Him. 1 Thessalonians 4 again. We who are alive and remain are the ones that will see it. At His return, every eye shall see Him. Revelation 1:7 and also Matthew 24 Jesus said as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Everybody's gonna see it. It won't be secret. At the Rapture, it's a time of blessing followed by a time of great tribulation and wrath. At His return, it's a time of judgment, cursing, followed by a kingdom that will be set up forever and ever. At the Rapture, the focus is on the Lord and His church. At His return, the focus is on Israel and the kingdom. The Rapture is sudden; it is unannounced; it is unpredictable. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the Bible says. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24 as saying therefore, be ready for the Son of Man is coming in an hour when you do not expect Him. It's unpredictable, even though people every other year try to predict it. They haven't and they can't. I suppose if you kept saying Jesus will come tomorrow, Jesus will come tomorrow, and said that every day, you'd eventually be right. But it's unpredictable. Unlike His return. His return is very predictable. You could stand in the middle of the tribulation and count the number of days to the Second Coming. There will be signs in heaven, darkness will come, the sun will fall or be darkened, the stars will fall, the moon will be darkened, smoke covers the earth. Jesus spoke about that event, His return, in Matthew 24 when He said immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, the powers of the heaven will be shaken, then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and 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 with great glory.
So that is why we see the Rapture and the return of Jesus Christ as two different events. And also that is why we are pre-tribulation in our belief of the Rapture, that Jesus will come before the tribulation, not at the end of it. It doesn't make much sense for Jesus to Rapture us off the earth at the end of the tribulation only to say as soon as we get there, we're going back. That doesn't fit the chronology, the context, the language, nor the character of God. Finally, and we'll close with this today, we see the King is conquering. And that's in verses 17 through 21. Boy, does He conquer. Remember Jesus said He's coming back with power and great glory. His power is displayed right here. This convergence at Armageddon. With great power He'll destroy the enemies, the beast; He'll cast the false prophet and the Antichrist into the Lake of Fire with His power. This is, you might say, to quote Saddam Hussein, the mother of all battles. This is the big one. Imagine the earth being so deceived that they say we're gonna fight God and they gather all their smart bombs together, you know waiting for the right shot at Him when He comes through the atmosphere. It's interesting that the world, the nations of the earth, cannot get together on anything, whether it's peace or energy usage or the environment. But there's only one thing they will be able to get together and collaborate on and that is they hate God and they want to fight Him. It's sort of like Pilate and Herod. They were enemies until Jesus was crucified. It says after that day, they became good buddies. They both agreed that they hate Jesus enough to see Him crucified and the world will agree that they should fight against God. The armies gather, it says. It says in verse 19: "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."
Who are these armies? There are a lot of people. There are the armies of the ten nations of Europe, the Confederation. The armies of the kings of the east. The leftover armies from Russia and from Egypt that all gather together in that 200 mile area of Israel beginning in the valley of Armageddon and moving forward toward Jerusalem. But it's really not a battle as we see. It's just an instant wipeout. Remember the old question, what if there was a war and nobody came? Well here you have everybody coming and there's no war! Jesus comes and it's history. With one weapon, the Word of His mouth. As Paul the apostle said, we see here a sword they're destroyed. I want you to notice, you've already probably noticed it as we went through it, the usage of the word flesh in that paragraph. Six times. And the birds are invited: come to the great supper! And it's your supper, birds! And your food is the flesh of the kings and the flesh of the mighty and the flesh of those who are not and the flesh of the horses and the flesh of those who sit on them and it's used over and over again. It's like, ew, that's gross, I get the idea already. I think it's significant. Here's a world that has lived after its flesh, pampered its flesh, worshiped its flesh, tried to perpetuate its longevity, and now as the Scripture says, you sowed to the flesh, you reap corruption. I can't also help but notice the two suppers that are mentioned in this chapter. Remember in chapter 19 at the beginning, the invitation: come to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Now it's come to the great supper of God and the supper is for the birds of the air, the vultures to feed off the bodies of men at this battle.
You might say that you will either accept His invitation and eat at His marriage supper or you will be supper. You will eat your lunch as people like to say today. But during the tribulation, people will just scoff, scowl, blaspheme, no, no we won't come, no! Hate God. Come up with a way to fight against God. The parallel to this is found in Matthew 24 verse 28 where Jesus said where there is a carcass there the vultures will be gathered together. It's the carcasses of all the great armies of the earth converging upon Armageddon. Let's close with how the chapter closes. In verse 20: "Then the beast was captured". That's good news. That's the Antichrist. "And with him the false prophet," boy that's good news, too, "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. 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."
Now why is there gonna be a tribulation? Is it God just said, you know, I just feel like having a tribulation on the earth---just something I came up with? Why will there be this great tribulation time? There are three distinct reasons. Number one and principally, to judge a world that has hated God and sought to push God out, has presumed upon the grace of God, has said no over and over again to His invitation. This tribulation will come. What we're reading about here is not their final judgment. That won't come till chapter 20 with the Great White Throne judgment. This is just their execution. There's another reason the tribulation will come. It's for the nation of Israel. The tribulation is called the time of Jacob's trouble and Israel, Jacob, will be greatly troubled, it already is, but will be greatly troubled during that time. Why? To prepare her for the coming of their Messiah and 144,000 of them will receive Him as their Messiah we're told. The first time He came, Israel rejected the Messiah. He came into His own, His own received Him not. Now they're ready to receive. There's a third reason there's a tribulation and that is to judge the Antichrist. Remember the fifth bowl is poured out on the kingdom of the beast. It's to judge the dude who said I'm invincible, I will rule the earth, I will wear the crowns. Remember the question that people asked when the beast comes on power? The question is asked, it's said sort of as a slogan during this time, who is like the beast and who is able to what? Make war with him. That's what they said. Who is able to make war with the beast? Jesus will come and say, over here... I can! I will. Not only will He match his wits, Paul said He will destroy him with the brightness of His coming. All powerful. I like the description the little boy had of Jesus Christ. He was trying to describe how powerful God is to his friends and he said well He's sort of like Superman, Batman, and the Power Rangers all put together. All the superheroes that kids have, He's like all of them put into One. And Jesus will come and act that way with this beast.
Now these two, the Antichrist and the false prophet, are cast into the Lake of Fire. The Antichrist and the false prophet are like the two witnesses of Satan during the tribulation period. They're his henchmen. They do his bidding. It's interesting to compare these two witnesses of Satan with the two witnesses of God during the tribulation in chapter 11. They're killed by the earth but it says they ascend alive into heaven. They go up alive up into heaven whereas the two witnesses of the devil are cast alive into the Lake of Fire. Big difference! The result of following Jesus Christ and the result of following the Antichrist. As Billy Sunday said, hell is the highest reward the devil can offer for being a servant of his. The wages of sin is? Death. The gift of God is? Everlasting life. You know, hell is scoffed at. This is the first mention of the Lake of Fire, by the way, in Revelation. We'll read about it more in chapter 20. It's a subject people either don't like to talk about or they joke about. Ted Turner, who said Christianity is a religion for losers, said, "I'm looking forward to dying and going to hell because that's where I'm headed." People joke about, oh my friends are there! I'm gonna hang out with them! Reader's Digest said the way a lot of people talk about hell today, you'd think it's air-conditioned. Even churches refuse to mention it in their services lest people would be offended by it. I want you to notice about these two witnesses, these two unrighteous witnesses, that are cast alive here, just keep in your mind. They're not in a great nightclub after death hanging out with all their buddies. They're being tormented and we're gonna read about them 1,000 years later they'll still be tormented. In other words, hell is not a place of annihilation where you just cease to exist, you're destroyed. It is not purgatorial where you just burn off your sins and then you get released from it. It is everlasting. And we'll see them mentioned again at the end of these 1,000 years.
You know, there was a group of American soldiers. They're on a warship and they're going over to their battlefield and they have a chaplain aboard the ship. So they go to the chaplain, knowing that they're about to face a battle, and they said, chaplain, do you believe in hell? The chaplain trying to act suave and enlightened said, no, I don't believe in hell. And the soldiers said, well then will you please resign? Because if there's no hell we don't need you. And if there is, we don't want you to mislead us. People reading the book of Revelation, especially this final battle where these two witnesses are cast alive into hell and we'll see the judgment coming later, we'll see the Great White Throne coming later, all the world is judged. People may read that and say well, you know, I think it's time for me to get some more religion. I'm gonna have to start going to church a little more than I am. In fact, I think I'm gonna buy a Bible. I'm gonna get me some religion. Let me quick to say religion never saved one person from hell. Religion never saved a person from their sins and changed a person's life. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ, what I mean by that is, only the righteousness of Jesus, not your goodness, your righteousness, your buying a Bible, your coming to church, it's receiving Him as your Lord, as your Savior. It's His blood shed for you that enables you to escape the wrath that is to come. By the way, I'd stop joking about hell if I were you. Dr. L. Nelson Bell, the father of Ruth Graham, warned that a person who freely uses hell, damn, and devil in conversations may be reminding himself of his destination, his condition, and his master. It is no joking matter. It is an ultimate reality for those who refuse to take the offer that God has so graciously given in His Son. And by the way, God does not want anyone to go to hell. He doesn't. He didn't create it for people. He created it for the devil and his angels. The only problem is misery loves company. So he has sought to deceive people and God has given people a choice. But God's plan is not hell. God's plan is in Revelation 22 when He invites people, come and drink freely of the water, the river of life. Some of you are so thirsty. You don't even know why you're thirsty. You just have this inner thirst in your life and you don't know how to quench it. It can only come by the living water of Jesus Christ---Him and Him alone.