This passage of Scripture is short, the message is somewhat weird, which is the great supper of human flesh; therefore, we need to take some time to explain it.
啟示錄裡面有很多字詞都是很怪異的，很多描寫令人摸不著頭腦，這一段更是有一點嘔心，可以說令人不大舒服。但是當我們明白這些是比喻性的話，我們當用另外的眼光來欣賞。耶穌曾向加利利的群眾說：｢吃我肉、喝我血的人，就有永生。｣( 約翰6:54) 當時聽眾也都受不了。因為他們不明白這些比喻在屬靈上的意義。
Revelation contains many phrases that are quite weird and puzzling, this section is a little nauseating making people feel rather uneasy. But when we understand that this is a figure of speech, we will be able to appreciate it as we look at it from a different perspective. Jesus often said to the crowd in Galilee: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6:54). At that time, the people couldn’t stand hearing Jesus speak that way because they did not understand these metaphors in the spiritual sense.
TWO GREAT SUPPERS
17 一位天使站在日頭中，向天空飛的鳥大聲喊著說：你｢們來赴神的大筵席，18 可以喫君王與將軍的肉，壯士與馬，和騎馬者的肉，並一切自主的、為奴的，以及大小人民的肉。｣1
7 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”
There was a Chinese movie called “ Rénròu Chāshāo Bāo ” (Roast Pork Bun of Human Flesh), just hearing the title makes people feel very uncomfortable; here it says “the great supper of human flesh” which is grosser. Why is this wording used ? It is bewildering for civilized people. However, this angel tells us that during the 7 years of great tribulation, there will be two great suppers, one is the marriage supper of Christ, which will happen in the heavenly sanctuary. On the earth there will be another great supper, as a result of the different kinds of disasters which will cause a great amount of people to die, similar to a great supper for scavenger birds of prey like crows and hawks.
Two great suppers, one in heaven and one on the earth, using a contrastive approach we will be able to understand more clearly the contents of these two great suppers.
The marriage supper of the Lamb, is when Christ marries the church, He brings the bride home for the wedding banquet. It is when Christ and the church really get together, joined together for eternity. At present, we are on the earth, we only meet with our Lord in the spiritual sense, it is a spiritual relationship, and of course it is relatively abstract and undefinable. Like what Paul said: “For now we see in a mirror dimly.” In the old days, people used copper to make mirrors, therefore the image they saw in the mirror was blurry, but Paul also says: “But then face to face.” Then we will walk with the Lord, hand in hand and dwell together with Him. After this wedding banquet, it will be the start of a new sweet life forever.
基督的婚筵，被稱為喜事，要｢歡喜快樂｣( 第七節) ，｢要將榮耀歸給神｣，要唱哈利路亞頌。教會喜氣洋洋的穿上潔白的婚紗，慶祝最終與主永遠相聚。地上所有的苦難全部都已經過去，以後再沒有眼淚、疼痛。擺在前面的是永遠的幸福。
The marriage supper of the Lamb is referred to as an occasion to “rejoice and be glad” (Verse 7), to “give the glory to God”, and to sing Hallelujah. The church will joyfully wear the pure and white wedding dress, celebrating being united with the Lord eternally. All the earthly sufferings have passed away; there will not be any more tears, sorrow or pain…eternal happiness to come.
The “great supper of human flesh” on earth, refers to the end times of this world, all God’s enemies will die a violent death, like the dead bodies on a battlefield exposed on the ground, no one had time to bury them, and they became the food for the unclean birds of the air. Different kinds of vultures, owls, hawks, they all eat the carcasses of dead animals. That is how God designed it, using those birds to clean the filthy things of this earth, cleaning up the things that may cause infectious diseases.
“An angel standing in the sun”, not like what it says in the Chinese Bible “on the sun”. The angel is standing in the sunlight, so all the birds could see him, and he cried out with a loud voice. Announcing to the whole world that this event will be worldwide headline news. He announced that the whole entire empire enemy of God will perish, including kings, military, the strong men, the troops, all their leaders and those they lead will all die and their bodies will be exposed on the streets. And the birds that eat dead things will all gather for the great feast. In the old times, people often saw vultures gathering around dead bodies, whenever they heard that many vultures were gathering they would know that many dead bodies on the streets.
God uses two great suppers to remind people of the two different outcomes. One is a joyful gathering and the other is a painful horrible disaster.
This is a prophecy from God and will definitely happen. People will have to make a choice of what road they want to take. One is a road of blessings, although it may seem that only a few have chosen this road, and you may not see the blessings on this earth, but in the future they will be participating in the joyous heavenly banquet. The other road leads to disaster, a great multitude may walk on it; this road may be welcomed by many. But at the end, it is a dead end street, not only dying a violent death but you may become the supper of a vulture, furthermore, your spirit will die eternally, a dreadful and tragic ending.
TWO KINDS OF WARS
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
These events will happen at the end of the 7 years of great tribulation, the empire of the beast and the leaders of the ten countries will join forces against the church of Christ. From chapter 11 we can see that they succeeded in putting an end to the church, the church was fiercely attacked, at the end it looked like it died, only the corpse remained. They didn’t even let the corpse of the church be buried, letting the people of the world see the empty church buildings, people did not have anymore worship services, as if they were telling people that this religion was completely annihilated.
Some regimes that oppose Christianity would make the church buildings into residences or other kind of businesses; others leave the magnificent church buildings to be used as a tourist site. They would set up a restaurant inside the place or use it for other purposes, as long as they do not have worship services there. It might seem that the church was destroyed completely. But later on, people discovered that the church was emerging in people’s homes. Church buildings may be demolished but the church will not perish.
The army of Christ did not posses any weapons of war, how did they prevail against the enemy? Since it says that a sharp sword comes from His mouth, without doubt it is His Word, God’s Word.
How did that enemy die? How did the church became victorious? We cannot imagine how the church could bring down the enemy through the Word of God. God did not use the Crusaders or Christian countries to defeat the enemy. The church of the end times will not be a church that uses violence. The church is against any kind of violence or military force. They silently endure hardships, their weapons are a heart of suffering. They mouths sing: “Onward Christian soldiers”, but actually, they do not carry any knives or guns, their military armor is made of truthfulness, faith, righteousness, prayer. This kind of military uniform will defeat the evil one in a spiritual battle, but at the final judgement on earth, the enemy will be destroyed physically. There is no way that those spiritual weapons that Christians use will be able to destroy the flesh.
From the materialistic view of the people of this world, the church is not worth mentioning. Regarding money, material possessions, weapons, supremacy, fame and status, the church is considered less important compared to other groups. That is the reason many people do not want to believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus will not get you power or fame. Everyone struggles to obtain influence, status and personal benefits.
At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese people blindly hated all foreigners. Western businessmen came to China to take away their profits. The Japanese came to China to take away their land. They thought all foreigners were evil. They did not know how to to differentiate those people from the missionaries who came to benefit China. These missionaries spent money and effort to come to China to start schools, orphanages, hospitals, churches, yet they were seen as if they were businessmen or politicians. It was very dangerous for a foreigner to walk on the streets of China in those days. Businessmen and politicians had weapons and security personnel with them at all times, but the missionaries did not have any of those things, yet they were also targeted and attacked. Therefore, at that time, some missionaries were thinking of carrying guns in case of riots. But many of the churches decided against it. As a result, during the riots, many of those who were killed were the unarmed missionaries.
TWO KINDS OF JUDGMENT
20 那獸被擒拿，在獸面前行奇事，迷惑受獸印記、拜獸像人的假先知，也與獸同被擒拿，他們兩個就活活被扔在燒著硫磺的火湖里。21 其馀的被騎白馬者口中出來的劍殺了，飛鳥都喫飽了他們的肉。
20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
These two kinds of banquets and two kinds of wars are the two kinds of judgments at the end of times. The word “judgment” has two meanings. The first meaning, “to examine”, to consider, to investigate. The second meaning is “to punish”, to punish by flogging, a judicial trial in a courtroom.
第一個審判，｢時候到了，審判要從神的家起首。｣( 彼前4:17) 那是關於審核、查賬方面的審判。每個基督徒要向主交賬，所有我們在地上為主所做的事，都有評審。這考查的時間是在｢基督的台前｣或｢基督的審判台前｣，所以也可以稱為頒獎台。忠心為主的人都得到獎勵回報。運動會的評判員也叫做審判官Judge 。基督的審判台原文是bema ，就是世運會頒獎台原來的字。
The first judgment, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (1 Peter 4:17) It is about examining a matter, like an audit. Every Christian will have to give account to God, therefore everything that we do for the Lord here on earth will be evaluated. This evaluation will happen before the “Judgment Seat of Christ”, that is why it can also be called an award platform. Those who labor faithfully for the Lord will get a reward in return. The person who decides who wins in a sport competition is also called a Judge. The Judgment Seat of Christ is called “bema” in the original language, which is the original word for the podium used at the Olympic games.
第二個審判, 是對惡人在地上今世的懲罰。七碗( 七杯) 之災基本上就是對世人的懲罰。在這日之前，神沒有特意懲罰世人，人做了壞事自然有因果報應。就像人得肺癌，是因為經常抽煙或吸進二手煙的緣故。耶穌說：｢我不審判人。｣因為祂仍然施恩等候人悔改。所以人說，我寫文章攻擊教會，嘴巴上毒罵神，或做了甚麽對付教會的行動，為甚麽神不顯靈懲罰我？因為現在仍然是施恩的時候，要等將來的那七年，纔是懲罰的日子。
The second judgment is the punishment for the wicked people of the world of this age. 7 bowls (7 cups) of disasters are basically the punishment for the people of this world. Before that day, God did not intentionally punish the people of this world . When people do evil deeds, they will certainly get what they deserve. Like when a person gets lung cancer, it might be either because he smoked or because of second-hand smoke. Jesus said: “I did not come to judge the world .” Because He is gracefully waiting for people to repent from their sins. Therefore, people say, I write articles attacking the church; I curse God with my mouth, or do something against the church, why doesn’t God show Himself and punish me? Because it is still the period of grace but during the last 7 years it will be the time for punishment.
Grace and punishment are two things that are very hard to give at the same time. If God would punish people now, they would say: Didn’t God say that He loves me? Isn’t He gracefully giving me a chance to repent? That is why the punishment will be administered at the end of the 7 years of great tribulation; it will be physical punishment, disasters and death.
The third judgment is the continuation of the second judgment for the wicked people who do not believe. It is called, “the judgment of the Great White Throne.” All the unbelievers will resurrect and will come before God to be judged. They will see all their past deeds, conclusive evidence, no room for debate on appeal. They will be condemned to death and will be thrown into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone together with the beast and the false prophet.
This is the last judgment. The lake of fire is a fire that never stops burning, painful memories tormenting unceasingly. The people of God will enter “the new heaven and the new earth”. “The new heaven and the new earth” are singular words. Before, God created worlds, there is the physical world, the spiritual world, there is the third heaven, the bottomless pit, Hades, etc. But in the future, all the worlds will disappear and there will be only one new heaven and one new earth. God, the angels and the people will live together in one world. Therefore, “the lake of fire” will be outside “the new heaven and the new earth”. There will be no time, no space, no beginning, no end, only total darkness and loneliness. Actually, these people will not be there because God wanted to punish them, but because they themselves chose not to receive the grace of God.
Superstitious people believe that when their relatives die and go to the netherworld, they are suffering because they are poor and lonely; that is why they burn fake paper money, paper houses, paper cars, and even paper women to serve them. They don’ t know anything about how hell would be in the future. Some believe at most it would be like a prison, where there is no freedom. But in prison, there is still grace, there is food, a library, television programs, computers to search the web, a gym, games and sport activities, there they even have friends whom they can talk to. But in Hades, there is nothing, because all those activities are a gift from God. It is a place without God, the only thing left is desolation and darkness.
The beast and the false prophet which are the empire that is enemy of God and the evil religion, they will disappear completely at the end of the 7 years of great tribulation. They are not two persons, they are two powers that are enemies of God , they will not need to wait for the judgment of the Great White Throne, and they will be completely eliminated at once.
It seems that they are fierce to the end but actually on chapter 5 it already tells us that Christ, the Lamb of God, had already overcome them on the Cross. Their evil lord backing them up had already been defeated long time ago; the last battle is just a dying struggle before their demise, it will not change their fate.
Here it says: “These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” Since the beast and the false prophet are not two persons but two organizations, how could they be thrown into the lake of fire? How come they did not have to face the final judgment before being thrown into hell? Because, behind these organizations were the demons that came out of the bottomless pit. Therefore, it wasn’t the organizations that were thrown into hell but the wicked demons, they don ‘t need to be judged, their ending, their fate is in the lake of fire.
And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.” The rest of the people who followed the beast and the false prophet will die a violet death and there will be no one to bury them and the birds will eat their flesh. Here it says that they were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Christ, which is the Word of God. How could God’s Word kill them?
The Word of God not only possesses the power of spiritual life, His Word also commands the whole universe. The enemy was destroyed; the unbelievers died a violent death, all from natural disasters. The natural disasters are all under God’s control. In history, God helped His people out of the hands of their enemies often using natural disasters as His weapons. God once used thunder to help Samuel; He used fire and lightning to destroy Ahab’s army that was after Elijah, He used various natural disasters, storms, earthquakes and hail to help the Israelites overcome their enemies. Of course, whatever disasters God used in the past will be nothing compared to what He will use during the final days. When the end of the world comes, the real judgment will come to the earth . If an earthquake of the greatest magnitude hits, they will all be destroyed from the face of this earth.