Image above is from Pinterest. “Babylon’s Fall” by John Martin 1789–1854. Public Domain.
Chapter 19 as a Whole
Verses 1-5 seem to close chapter 18 rather than begin chapter 19. They are a thanksgiving for the destruction of Babylon—the trans-temporal symbol of Satan’s dominion in this world and Antichrist’s end time evil empire that engulfs the entire globe.
“John hears the response of heaven’s residents to the invitation in Revelation 18:20“—Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (see Johnson, D. E. below.)
There are three major events in chapter 19—
1. The Invitation to the Marriage-Feast of the Lamb
2. The Second Coming of Christ
3. The Battle of Armageddon/Carrion-Feast of the Birds
The theme of Revelation 19:1-5 is—God’s people will see His righteous vengeance displayed at the end.
I. Our God is a God of deliverance of His people from danger and threats to their safety and well-being.
vs. 1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…
John Paton (1824-1907; pictured left) was a [Scottish] missionary in the New Hebrides Islands [South Pacific]. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present, but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. (see Today in the Word, below.)
Vagrants might be persons without any means of support, but God’s people are beloved people of God who gives them invisible means of support! See II Kings 6—
15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
“After this” is literally “after these things” (the same phrase that occurs in Rev. 1:19 meta tauta). This phrase indicates movement in the visions, but not necessarily movement in time of fulfillment.
This is important in interpreting chapters 16-19. Some of the visions are not chronological. There are sections that retrace past events for the purpose of explanation. The “multitude” is not identified. It seems to be, however, a multitude of angels. “Hallelujah” is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated into English. It means “praise Yahweh” or “praise the Lord.” This is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. The three attributes mentioned are said to “belong to God.” They are demonstrated in all that he does to save his people—in the physical and spiritual sense of “salvation.”
“Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven”
by de Gustave Doré; Public Domain
Salvation is “God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. It has multiple ideas such as: welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, salvation, safety.” (see sōtēria, below.)
Glory is doxa—from which we derive our English word doxology. Doxa means honor, renown; glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor. (see doxa, below.)
Power is dunamis from which we derive the English word dynamite. (see dunamis, below.)
This paean of praise brings to mind the Lord’s Prayer given in the Gospels. (see Ellicott, below.) For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:13). Our Lord is at the center of Heaven’s praise, and this should move us to do the same here on earth.
II. Our God’s judgment involves righteous vengeance for evil done to His people.
vs. 2 …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.”
Amusement Park in Pripyat before (1980s) and 34 years after the Chernobyl disaster
The photographs above show how quickly a city once vibrant with 50,000 persons can fall into disuse after 34 years. This is certainly true of Imperial Cities all through history.
“Judgment” in Greek is krisis. The –sis ending on the word indicates that the act of final judgment is in view, not simply a temporal pronouncement in a human court.
The great prostitute is John’s symbol for Dragon’s trans-temporal empire and its ungodly culture and religion. At this point in Revelation, Babylon has already fallen. The word “who” is the indefinite relative pronoun in Greek. Its use is qualitative—”this is the very one who corrupted the earth… . ”
vs. 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”
Isaiah 34:8-10 seems to be the basis for John’s image here—
8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch.
10 Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.
III. Angels validate God’s righteous judgment in their praises.
vs. 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
At this point, the 24 elders mentioned in chapter 4 join in the praise of the Lord. They are an order of angels.
IV. Our God calls upon all His people to praise Him for His righteous judgment.
vs. 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”
Everyone is included in this call to worship. Alan F. Johnson says that “all socioeconomic distinctions are transcended in the united worship of the church… .” They will be in the great day of Christ’s Second Coming, for sure. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, once had a dream. She said she saw people rising from earth to enter into heaven. Only as they rose all man-made labels fell off.
However, we might add, that such distinctions ought to be transcended now, also. This entire passage with its hallelujahs seems to be based upon Psalm 113-118 known as the Great Hallel.
(1) God’s servants (doulos—literally “slaves”) Psalm 113:1—Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!
(2) God-fearers (phobeomai) Psalm 115:12-13—12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; 13 he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.
(3) Small ones (mikros)
God’s judgment doesn’t always come quickly, but it certainly does come!
Next time, we will look at the marriage feast of the lamb.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
Doxa. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1391.htm
Dunamis. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1411.htm
Ellicott, J. C. (1878). Commentary for English Readers. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/19-1.htm
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Sōtēria. (2021). Bible Hub; Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/4991.htm
Today in the Word. (1991). “Missionary Story.” Accessed 7 April 2021 from https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/1534/missionary-story/
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