The contest being between the Lord and his armies on the one part, and the wicked nations on the other, the angel seen standing in the sun and performing an important act in connection with the Lord's army, must represent one of his attending angels; for the acts to be performed are to be by their instrumentality: "In the end of this world, 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 fire," Matt.13:40-42.
His crying to the fowls of heaven to come and sup on the bodies of the slain, is indicative of the certainty of victory and of the entire overthrow of those who war against the Lamb. As birds gather on fields of slaughter to feast on the slain, so a cry to "all the fowls of heaven" is expressive of the extent and thoroughness of the destruction to be inflicted. It is the same cry which is made in Ezekiel, 39:17, when the armies of Gog are slain on the mountains of Israel. The beast and the kings of the earth symbolize the various governments in the world. The "beast" is that which had seven heads and ten horns (13:1, and 17:3), and was a symbol of Rome in its decem-regal form. It was said of this beast, it shall "go into perdition," (17:8); so that under some manifestation, it must continue till the end of the world: the earth being "reserved unto fire against the day of judgement, and perdition of ungodly men," 2 Pet.3:7. As only in its divided form, the Roman empire continues till then, the beast is here significant of the divisions represented by its ten horns -- the governments of modern Europe. "These shall war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they that are with him are called and chosen and faithful," 17:14.
"The false prophet," which is taken with the beast, is described as the one "that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image," v.20. This identifies him as the two-horned beast of Rev.13. (13:11-17). The two-horned beast being a representative of the Eastern Roman empire, when that was subverted by the Turks it became the seat of the false prophet, -- the Mahometan hierarchy.
The kings of the earth must be the remaining governments which are not represented by those two. By their subsequently warring with the Lamb, it follows that the previous resurrection and translation of the saints does not produce a cessation of all government. Those events may not be apparent to all eyes; or they may serve only to madden the unbelieving, and to make them more desperate in their infidelity.
They gather their armies to war against the Lamb. They resist his authority. They will not have Him to reign over them. They are instigated to oppose him by "unclean spirits like frogs" (16:13), which are the spirits of devils [demons, understood by the Jews to be spirits of the wicked dead] 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, Ib. v.14. This is when Christ is to "come as a thief;" and they are to be gathered "into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon," 16:15, 16. This was the name of the valley at the foot of Mount Megiddo (Judg.5:19), which was famous as a valley of slaughter. In it Jehu fought against Ahaziah and Joram, and slew both the kings of Israel and Judah, 2 Kings 9:27. It was afterwards memorable for the death of king Josiah, when Pharaoh-necho fought against him, (2 Kings 23:29); so that the mourning as "in the valley of Megiddon," became a proverbial expression in Israel for great mourning, Zech.12:11,12. It is therefore significantly applied to the final battle.
Thus do "the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed;" but "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision." For the decree has gone forth: "I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel," Ps.2:2-9. In this victory the saints, also, have a part; for it is written: "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father," 2:26, 27.
As thus predicted, in this final conflict the nations are smitten, 19:15. Those symbolized by the beast and false prophet are cast alive into the burning flame; i.e., the individuals constituting the bodies of those beasts are cast therein: their governments cease when taken by the Lamb and his armies. This is in accordance with what Daniel saw, who "beheld, even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame," Dan.7:11.
"The remnant" also are slain; so that there are none left alive on the earth of all the wicked. Thus Daniel interpreted to king Nebuchadnezzar his dream: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image [representing the governments of earth] upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them," Dan.2:34, 35. It will "break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms" (Ib.), according to the prediction: "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted," Isa.60:12. "And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people which have fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongues shall consume away in their mouth," Zech.14:12. "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," Mal.4:1. "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it," Isa.13:9. Thus will the Saviour come "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day," (2 Thess.1:8-10): saying to the nations on his left, "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," Matt.25:41. Thus will he "gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth," Ib., 13:41, 42. The destruction of all the wicked from the earth is followed by: