A Study of Revelation 19:17-18
A study of Revelation 19:17-18
All the Fowls Were Filled With Their Flesh
Revelation chapter 19 verse 11 begins a new vision that the Lord Jesus gave to the Apostle John. Here John saw the Lord Jesus Christ come out of heaven riding on a white horse, and all the armies which were in heaven followed Him on white horses. We need to keep in mind that this vision is recorded in highly symbolic terms. We must learn to understand parabolic statements in the Bible, which we can understand by comparing Scripture with Scripture. The main point of the passage recorded in verses 11-16 is:
The King Is Coming With All His Saints
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
The Lord Jesus Christ comes out of Heaven as the leader of an army that goes to fight the nations of the world at the battle of Armageddon. He rides on a horse to indicate that He comes to fight a war. He is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood to indicate that He has finished one battle already. It was the battle at the cross where He fought for us, rebellious sinners, but elect of God, and our blood has stained His vesture. And when He comes again He shall bring all the souls of all the saints with Him, as we have read in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and 4:14, and God will raise up the bodies of all those who have died, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2, John 5:29).
There are many verses in the Bible that refer to this event, of Christ coming with all the saints. These are the armies that symbolically follow Christ on white horses. For example we read in Jude 14:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.
We read Zechariah 14:5
And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.
And then He will rapture all His saints. The people that are left on earth are the nations that shall be judged. They shall be judged by the sharp sword out of the mouth of Christ. The Lord Jesus said in John 12:48:
The Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Thus we can understand the symbolism of the two-edged sword out of His mouth, “that with it He should smite the nations.”
And then Christ shall break them with a rod of iron, and shall pour His wrath upon them while they are in “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
Then shall all the heathen know that He always has been the King of kings and Lord of lords. The exact wording of verse 16 in the Greek text is as follows: “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name having been written, king of kings and Lord of lords.”
In other words, in a prior action His name has already been written this way. This means that today Christ is already King of kings and Lord of lords. He has had this title ever since He victoriously rose from the grave, for this is what He said in Matthew 28:18. Then we read that He calls. It is:
A Call to the Fowls of the Air
And I 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;
That ye 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 that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
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.
These last 7 words are the title of this article, “All the Fowls Were Filled With Their Flesh”. We are going to see what it means that the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 19 calls for the fowls to eat the flesh of the armies that are gathered together to make war against Christ. Yes it is he Lord Jesus who calls. This “Angel standing in the Sun” is God’s way to symbolize the brightness of Christ’s coming.
In Revelation 1 the Lord Jesus shows Himself to John in symbolic terms. We cannot draw a picture of this scene. We must understand the words.
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the Sun shineth in his strength.
Not only His face is shining as the sun; His entire being is shining as the sun. We can see this in the prophecy of Malachi. Here in Malachi 4 God speaks about Judgment Day, both the second Judgment Day, the Last Day, and the first Judgment Day at the cross. In Malachi 4:1 God speaks about the Last Day.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up (lit: “frisk”) as calves of the stall.
“You that fear my Name” refers to the saints. For the saints the coming of Christ will not be burning like an oven. For the saints Christ shall come as “the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings”. For the saints Christ shall appear as the Sun, and the rays of this Sun shall bring healing to their dead bodies, and shall raise them up with glorified bodies that will be raptured up to be with Christ forever. What a glory this will be.
Who are the players on this scene?
We see the Lord Jesus Christ. We see all the saints and angels, they are the armies that follow Christ. We see the unsaved people of the world, including the beast and the false prophet, for these are also people in service of Satan.
But where are the symbols of Satan and his fallen angels?
Could it be that the fowls that fly in mid-heaven are the symbols of Satan and his angels?
Let us search this out.
The Fowls That Fly in Mid-heaven
In the Old Testament the complete defeat of an army is symbolized by not burying the bodies of the slain. To give their flesh to the birds of heaven for meat is expressive of the most complete and shameful defeat possible. These birds of heaven are vultures that feed on dead rotting flesh. However, God does not invent metaphors arbitrarily. These vultures feeding on dead people have a deeper spiritual meaning, which we can find in the New Testament. In three of the narrative Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the fowls of the air usually represent the Devil and his angels. You find this in Matthew 13:4, Matthew 13:32, Mark 4:4, Mark 4:32, Luke 8:5, and Luke 13:19.
This is the spiritual meaning of the fowls we find in most of the New Testament.
Is it possible that this is also the meaning of the fowls in Revelation 19:17?
Let us first establish where these fowls fly. In Revelation 19:17 Christ is talking to the fowls that fly in “the midst of heaven”. Actually these last four words are in the Greek text only one word, meaning “mid-heaven”.
Where is mid-heaven?
Is mid-heaven the third heaven where God and the angels dwell?
Is it the firmament where the sun and the moon and the stars are?
Therefore this mid-heaven must refer to the sky, where the birds fly. They would not be able to fly in outer space, for there is no air there where they can flap their wings. We read in Genesis 1:1:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Hebrew word for heaven is here a plural word, heavens, indicating that God created more than one heaven, for He created also the heaven of heavens, or the invisible third heaven, where God and the angels dwell. But there is another heaven. Please drop down to verse 14, where we read,
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And if you drop down to verse 20, you see another heaven where the fowls of the air fly.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
That God meant the word “heaven” to be understood in the plural sense is demonstrated in Genesis 2:1
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
No wonder then that the Apostle Paul specified that he was caught up in “the third heaven”, where
God and the angels dwell, in 2 Corinthians 12:2. And thus we see that the “fowls that fly in mid-heaven” refers to the sky above. God gave us here an interesting chapter, which I have titled, “A Picture of Hell”.
Revelation 19:1-8 refers to the end of the world, where all nations and all their armies are destroyed for their rebellion against God. In addition, all the unsaved nations are symbolized by the land of Idumea, or Edom, the land of Esau.
Remember, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”, Romans 9:13. All the unsaved of the world are represented by Esau.
And where do all these slain unsaved people end up?
They end up in Hell, which is exactly the description of the second half of this chapter. Interestingly, God fills this horrible Hell with all kinds of wild beasts. The first half of Isaiah 34 concerns people. The enemies of God are killed and are cast into this place that resembles Hell. But the second half of this chapter speaks only about wild beasts and wild fowls of the air. We read in:
And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons (lit: serpents), and a court for owls.
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
In verse 9, brimstone and burning pitch are typifying Hell. Moreover, when verse 10 says “the smoke thereof shall go up for ever”, we know for certain that it refers to Hell. We know that this earth will be destroyed, and thus for this land, bearing the curse of God, to burn forever it must be a symbol of Hell. Interestingly, most of the wild beasts in this land are unclean predators or are vultures, all meat eating birds of the kind that the Lord Jesus Christ is calling in Revelation 19:17.
Who do these wild animals and fowls represent here in Isaiah 34?
God says in verse 17 that the wild birds shall possess the land forever. Moreover, in verse 14 we read “the satyr shall cry there”. Is there a connection here with:
Satyrs and Demons
The Hebrew word for “satyr” is a word that most often has been translated “goat”, . This description of a Satyr in Isaiah 34 is anticipating the role of the goats in the “parable of the sheep and the goats” that the Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 25.
Sometimes that Hebrew word cannot be simply translated as “goat”, since the context indicates that this animal has ominous connotations. Ominous means it is “foreboding”, or “foreshowing evil”. Therefore, two times do we find that this word has been translated “devils”, and two times has it been translated “satyr”.
Now let’s look at Leviticus 17:7,
And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils , after whom they have gone a whoring This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.
Likewise we read of the sin of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin, in 2 Chronicles 11:15:
2 Chronicles 11:15
And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils , and for the calves which he had made.
Moreover, God speaks about Babylon in Isaiah 13 as if it shall reflect the land described in Isaiah 34:
It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.
Instead of “forever” the Lord uses the expression “from generation to generation”.
Babylon as a wasteland shall be dwelt in from generation to generation, and “Satyrs shall dance there”.
Of course, satyrs do not really exist. They are a figure out of Greek mythology. But the King James translators chose this word to indicate the ominous connotations attached to this creature here in Isaiah 13:21 and in Isaiah 34:14. And so we see that the second half of Isaiah 34 underscores that this chapter is speaking about Hell.
But since satyrs and wild fowls do not represent people in Hell, who could they represent?
The only answer to this question is that they represent demons, namely Satan and his fallen angels. This is a terrifying conclusion, but it is the only one I know of that harmonizes with everything else.
In Ezekiel 39 God speaks about end time events, where Satan is going to invade the “Mountains of Israel”. And people from the Premillennial persuasion grab the events of this chapter as the evidence that fierce literal battle is going to take place there East of the Mediterranean. They fail to realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross;
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
We are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,
We are the Israel of God,
Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with he children.
They do not take into account that:
We are the circumcision,
He is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart..
..and so on.
And so, when we look at Ezekiel 39 we must understand that God is speaking symbolically. During the Final Tribulation Period Satan is going to invade the churches throughout the world, and the result will be that the church becomes the harlot-church called Babylon. This is the invasion of Satan on the “Mountains of Israel”. In addition, Satan will instigate the nations of the world to oppose God and Christ. And thus, when Christ comes for the second time there will be a great slaughter of all the unsaved who are in rebellion against Christ. And then we read in:
And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.
Ye 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 bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
Ezekiel 39:20Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
Here in Ezekiel 39 it is not only the fowls of the air but also the beasts of the field who are partaking of the dead bodies. These are the beasts and the fowls that we have seen in Isaiah 34, which is a picture of Hell. This is the same event that we have seen in Revelation 19:17-21, for God uses the same terms of His wrath in both these passages. The fowls of the air and the beasts of the field shall eat the carcasses of those that have been slain with the sword. And thus we see that the wild fowls and the wild beasts in Isaiah 34, and in Ezekiel 39, and in Revelation 19 all represent the demons who are invited to eat of the unsaved that are cast into Hell.
Can this be true?
Are people dead when this happens?
And now we remember:
Dust Shall Be the Serpent’s Meat
In Isaiah 65 God speaks of events on the Last Day, and God speaks of two groups of people and two different actions He is going to take to reward those two groups of people. To the unsaved He brings to their remembrance their sins, and God says in verse 12:
Therefore will I number you to the sword.
To those who are saved He brings to their remembrance in verse 9 that their salvation is entirely by grace, where God says,
I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My Mountains.
Now we turn to verse 25 where God sums up the condition in the New Heaven & New Earth and the condition in Hell. God says in Isaiah 65:25:
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
What is this?
Shall the serpent, representing Satan, eat dust?
Is this his punishment?
We know that this is much too lenient a penalty for Satan.
Is God speaking in parables again?
When we think of “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat” we are reminded of another occasion when God said that the serpent shall eat dust. Let me read to you from Genesis 3:14, where God spoke to the serpent indwelt by Satan, who had just successfully tempted Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
“All the days of thy life”?
Now we understand that God was not speaking to a snake, but to Satan, for we know that a snake is carnivorous. No snake on earth eats dust, ever.
But does Satan eat dust?
Let us look 5 verses down to Genesis 3:19, where God says to Adam:
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And thus when we read of Satan eating dust, we should think of him eating people.
Does God more often refer to Satan eating people?
O Yes, of course!
God says in 1 Peter 5:8:
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
When the devil devours people in this life, it means that he has persuaded those people to abandon the true God and Christ, and either to worship a false god, or to live a carefree life in total absence of God. Either way they are totally in the hands of Satan. Their doom is sure.
But what does it mean when in the life hereafter, in Hell, God says, “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat”?
It means that Satan and his demons shall delight themselves in torturing those who together with him are suffering in Hell. Their doom is sure, and Satan and his demons shall make sure that the suffering of unsaved people in Hell knows no end. Even though Satan and his demons are tortured themselves, he shall delight to bring additional affliction on people he hates most.
Whom does Satan hate most?
God gives him the desire to hate those whom God intends to deserve the deepest place in Hell, for Satan is God’s busiest servant in this life, and he will still be God’s busiest servant in the life hereafter.
Whom does God hate most?
God hates religious people who pretend to serve Him, but instead are serving other gods. The nation of Israel before their Babylonian captivity was one of the nations whom God hated most, for they were busy serving other gods. That is why we read four times in the prophecy of Jeremiah, “And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth”, which we read in Jeremiah 7:33, Jeremiah 16:4, Jeremiah 19:7, and Jeremiah 34:20.
Does this not remind you of Isaiah 34 where these fowls of heaven and the beasts of the earth are representing the demons in Hell?
Does this not remind you of Revelation 19:17-18?
We return now to Revelation 19 where the Lord Jesus Christ calls on all the fowls that fly in mid-heaven, “Come to the supper of the great God, that ye may eat the flesh………the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great”. Indeed, rattlesnakes come in all sizes, both small and great. Unsaved people come in all sizes, both small and great. Then we read in Revelation 19:19:
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
And then follows what is often called:
The Battle of Armageddon
Perhaps you remember how we got to this stage in history.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And then we read in Revelation 19:19 that the armies are gathered together.
Is there going to be a literal army with canons and planes that intends to go to battle against God and Christ?
Can we indeed expect that all the nations of the earth under Antichrist shall be assembled here for the purpose of fighting against Christ when He comes again from heaven in His final appearance in glory?
That is ridiculous.
First of all, it is against the Word of God to believe that all the world shall expect the coming of Christ. And certainly that all the people of the world shall be bold enough to strike at Christ or to assemble for battle against Christ is contrary to the Scriptures. In fact, the world does not believe in the coming of Jesus; that is what the Bible teaches, and that is what we see in the world today.
Secondly, there is nothing from which the world weans away faster and faster than from the idea of a second coming of Christ.
Thirdly, it is simply absurd to suppose that even if they did expect the coming of Christ, they would have the courage to gather their armies in order to fight against Him. No, instead they will be filled with fear, for they know that Christ comes with all His angels, and one angel is more powerful than all the airplanes and canons on the earth.
How then do we understand this battle of Armageddon to be?
First of all, we must remember that these words in the prophecy of Revelation are written symbolically. We must search out what these symbols mean by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Secondly, we must harmonize end time events with the statements by the Lord Jesus, such as those that we read in Matthew 24:37-39, and in Luke 17:26-30.
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
In other words, no one shall expect Jesus’ coming. It will be business as usual. There will be no great bloodletting on the earth, like in a worldwide persecution. There will be no nuclear war, or another great world war, or great calamity by terrorists. There will be no great famine or starvation of Christians because they do not have the mark of the beast on their forehead. None of these things shall be in place. But what there will be in place is a great apostasy; so great that we fear none of our children will be saved if this apostasy continues for 70 years. This, in fact, is the character of the great tribulation that we will have to endure. The character of the Final Tribulation Period is typified by the statement of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:24, where He says,
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
This is the nature of the Final Tribulation Period, and this is the attitude of all the nations of the world against Christ. And this is how they are fighting against Christ: not with physical armor, or bullets, or bombs, but with contempt for Christ, and with contempt for the Bible, and with scorn and ridicule of those who are still holding on to the old time religion, and with false gospels that are designed to deceive, if possible, even the elect, and with ways to put extreme pressure on those who do not want to convert to the Charismatic gospel. Therefore, God warns us for this dangerous period of time, for it is so easy to collapse. Here is:
A Serious Warning From God
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a dream in which he saw a great statue, of which Daniel told him that this statue represented all the kingdoms on this earth, beginning with king Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold. But then we read in:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Let us read this carefully. God said: It shall never be destroyed, and the new kingdom shall not be left to other people, and it shall consume all these kingdoms on this earth, and it shall stand forever.
Can this be accomplished in the New Testament era?
No! This will only be accomplished if this earth shall be destroyed and the New Heaven & New Earth shall be ushered in. Only then shall all these kingdoms on this earth be destroyed, and only then shall the new Kingdom not be left in the hands of other people. And so, Daniel 2:44 speaks of the end of the world when Christ shall come, and all the saints with Him. For the saints it will be a glorious day, full of excitement and glory. But for the unsaved it will be a horrifying day. Just think of it. The most terrifying horror movie would be insufficient to describe the horror of standing before the Judgment throne of Christ. All people wait in line, and all will have a plain view of the Lake of Fire. No one will have an excuse or a defense before Christ. Everyone standing at the Judgment throne before have been picked up by the angels and dropped into the Lake of Fire.
And who is waiting there?
Satan and all the demons with him are tormented in the Lake of Fire, and they are blaming the entire human race for getting them into this nasty situation. Symbolically speaking, “All the fowls of the air are ready to attack our precious body. All the beautiful faces that have been well kept for so many years shall be torn by those birds and shall be scorched by the flames. And there is no one to help, for the day of salvation has past”. Such is the warning of Almighty God to listen to His words of the Bible.
By Alfred Chompff