Revelation 18: 20 – 19: 10

Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets,
for God has given judgment for you against her!”

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”

her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” 

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Once more they cried out,

The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Understanding And Applying the Text

With the destruction of Babylon, we see pure joy and excitement. This contrasts with the weeping of the kings of the earth and merchants. They cried over the destruction of Babylon. But the righteous rejoice.

I started this section in the middle of a quotation. It chapter 18 verse 20. The reason for this is the translators translated the quotation as one voice. In Greek, there are no quotation marks. And the sudden shift from lament to praise indicates a different voice. It makes no sense that the sailors and merchants would shift from lamenting their loss to praise. That is why I have cut the quotation in the middle and begun a new section.

As I do so I do so with caution, care, and trepidation. Many, smarter than I have left if as one quotation. So I will leave it to you to use your own judgment.

All of a sudden this voice shouts, “Rejoice!” “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” There is no transition. The shift from lament to praise is sudden. This is the beginning of praising God for sending His judgment.

Heaven praises God not only for judging the wicked but also for vindicating His people.

The angel shows the finality of Babylon’s fall by the irreversible act of throwing a large stone into the sea. This is a reference back to Jeremiah 51:63-64. There Seraiah, when he finished reading the book, was to tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Jeremiah goes on to say that was to show Babylon would sink and not rise again. Here the angel throws a stone into the sea to show Babylon’s judgment is final.

After this, there arose a thunderous sound of a large crowd in heaven. They were shouting praise to God. There was a recognition that God’s judgments are true and just.

The idea of judgment makes us uncomfortable. We like thinking everything should work in our favor. We like to believe all destruction is evil. God only does good. The problem is we have a faulty definition of good. And we define good as whatever works for our immediate benefit. So we do not understand destruction as just. In fact, we reject it outright. We forget it is God who is righteous, not us. We are not the highest good. In fact, Paul tells us there is no good in us. (Romans 3:12) The only value we have comes from God. And He grants it to us by His mercy and grace.

Those in heaven recognize this and praise God for His righteous judgment. I often think that angels in heaven were thinking, “Well it’s about time. I was wondering if there was ever going to be an end to Your patience.” Praise for God comes from the angels, the 24 elders, the 4 living creatures, and a great multitude.

Prophecy can and does have more than one fulfillment. The immediate reference to Babylon was Rome. Today Babylon can represent the false church. What is the false church? It is not a specific denomination or organization. There are many. But here we see the triumph of the pure bride, the true church. This contrasts with the destruction of the corrupt false church (Babylon)

Who or what is the true church. Those who preach Christ’s atoning death and resurrection comprise the true church. They preach salvation is in Christ alone. God gives salvation to men by His grace alone through faith alone. There is not a single denomination or organization. What is referred to here is what Augustine called the invisible church.

There was rejoicing because the bride was ready. The bride was clothed in fine linen, bright and pure. This contrasts the great prostitute and Christ’s bride. The prostitute wore expensive red clothes. Christ’s bride wears purity. Her clothing is bright and pure. She is ready for the marriage. The clothing of the bride is the righteous deeds of the saints.

But where does that righteous come? Paul told us in Roman 3:12 no one was good. No one was righteous. The righteous originates from Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The saints are not righteous in themselves. They are righteous because they are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Their deeds then are the result of Christ’s righteousness. Only the blood of Christ can make a sinner pure.

The imagery of a wedding expresses the intimacy, love, and joy between Christ and His people.

John is overtaken at the glory and splendor of it all. He falls down to worship the angel. The angel said, “Hey get up don’t do that. Worship God.” The angel was a fellow servant. John had the spirit of prophecy. That is, he had the word of God. That did not mean we were/are to worship John. He is a fellow servant as we are. John, like the angel, carried God’s word. In that since John’s ministry compares to that of the angels. In that sense, John is greater than us. But we are not to pray to or worship John in any fashion.

In the history of the church, there have been those who thought it was a good thing to worship angels or saints. Rome teaches praying to saints. Now in all fairness, they do claim only veneration not worship. But they bow before their statues. The word used here to worship is to bow down. The angel said don’t bow down to me. But they go far beyond that. They offer prayers and sacrifices to the saints. They petition the saints rather than Christ. They take from Christ what is His. And they offer it to a dead man. In the Old Testament worshiping the dead was a capital offense. While they make a distinction between veneration and worship. It is a distinction without a difference. Calling a pile of dung a rose does not change it into a rose.

Rome claims tradition and Scripture have equal authority. They claim there is no contradiction between Scripture and tradition. Here is a clear contradiction between what Rome teaches and scripture. That is why the reformation was so serious.

Do not think protestants are pure here. There are much heresy and false worship in many protestant churches as well. It is easy to find a megachurch with a cult around its pastor. They worship their senior pastor. That is why reformation must continue. We must constantly point ourselves back to the scripture.

The angel said don’t bow down to me. Don’t even venerate me. Only worship God. God and God alone is worthy of worship. Do not worship or venerate the angels, saints, the pope, or your pastor.

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