Heaven Celebrates the Coming Kingdom (Revelation Sermon 33 of 49)
January 28, 2018 | Andrew Davis
Revelation 18 ends with the sound of a great crash, the fall of Babylon the Great, which we could hear by faith. The image given is of a mighty millstone cast down with violence into the ocean; with such violence, Babylon the Great will be cast down. Babylon the Great refers to the world system of satanic allurements and temptations and the persecution of the church. In Revelation 18, lamentation arises as the worldlings, the Babylonians of that modern era, so to speak, grieve and mourn the fall of Babylon. Thus ends Revelation 18.
Revelation 19 opens with a different loud sound — Hallelujah, a sound of triumph and victory and worship and praise. Four times in Revelation 19:1-10, the word “Hallelujah” is shouted. We can hear it as well by faith. It is a word of praise, ripping apart the lamentation of the citizens of Babylon.
Hallelujah! This section of Revelation is all about celebrating the fall of Babylon the Great. Heaven’s citizens could not be more thrilled. Babylon’s history is dark and sordid. There was a moment in time, a long time ago, when the earth had one language and one culture, and the citizens of Babylon — Babel at that time — built a tower to reach up to Heaven. God confused the languages at that time and scattered the people to the distant parts of the earth.
God has sent messengers to those distant shores. Some of the inhabitants of almost every tribe and language and people and nation have believed in Christ, and they assemble in worship this very day as the sun makes its circuit through the earth’s 24 time zones. I have attended assemblies in many nations — Japan, China, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Greece — and have heard that word pronounced roughly the same way with slight variation: “Hallelujah!”
It is a Hebrew plural imperative. I am not from the South originally — thank you for welcoming me and my northern family into this southern culture — so I do not yet say, “All y’all,” and I probably never will use it as a natural expression. However, you understand when I say, “All y’all praise Yahweh (or Jehovah).” Everyone together simply praise the Lord. It is human-centered with us in view — we as redeemed creatures are being commanded to praise Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Heavenly worship is the context of this chapter.
Summary of Revelation and Context for Revelation 19
Context is vital to understanding what we read. Revelation 19:3 is a powerful and troubling verse: “Again, they shouted, ‘Hallelujah. The smoke from her rises forever and ever.’” We need to understand why Heaven’s inhabitants are celebrating eternal torment, smoke rising forever and ever. We need to step back and look at the whole book and get a sense of where we are in Revelation.
Revelation, or apocalypse, is the pulling back of a veil. We are able to see the invisible by faith in the Word of God. Revelation 1:1 begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” Above all, Christ is revealed in ways that no other book of the Bible reveals Him. Jesus himself is the revelation of God — the image of the invisible God. Through Christ, we see God more clearly through this book of Revelation. In addition, at the very beginning, in the first verse, the future is unveiled as well. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.”
The Apostle John, who wrote this book for us and who shows up in the text unusually today, was in exile on the rocky island of Patmos, because of the testimony he had borne for Jesus. He had a vision of the resurrected glorified Christ, walking among seven golden lamp stands. These lamp stands represent literal churches in the province of Asia, near Patmos. Biblically, the number seven is a number of idyllic perfection, so these literal seven churches also represent all the local churches over 20 centuries, including us. This is a picture of the resurrected Jesus Christ ministering to those churches.
Revelation 2 and 3 reveal the letters from Jesus to the seven churches. Although they were literal churches, they represent the strengths and weaknesses and challenges and successes and sins of local churches throughout all of history. We are admonished in every case. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” — plural. Because we are a local church, we need to hear what Christ would say to us now.
In Revelation 4, John has a vision of a door standing open in Heaven. He hears a voice inviting, commanding him, “Come up here.” He is empowered through the Spirit to go through that doorway into the Heavenly realms. There he sees the central reality of the universe: a throne with someone seated on it — the throne of Almighty God. He describes concentric circles of 24 elders, four living creatures, and 100 million angels, all worshipping and celebrating God the Creator. Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” It is vital to understand that God created earth and everything in it — all resources which Babylon the Great uses for idolatry were made by and belong to God.
In Revelation 5, John sees a scroll in God’s right hand, with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. A cry goes out, “Who is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals?” No one in Heaven or earth or under the earth is worthy to take the scroll. John weeps because no one is found worthy, but he is told, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has triumphed.” He sees a Lamb looking as if it had been slain. Both the Lion and the Lamb depicted in Revelation are Jesus. For the rest of the book, he is called Lamb rather than Lion, because this book is written for us who believe. To us, he is the Lamb, but to outsiders, he is a Lion. The Lamb takes the scroll.
In Revelation 6, the Lamb breaks open the seven seals, which initiates a series events on earth that bring the end of the world. The events from the seven seals are described as the beginning of birth pains, though the sixth seal brings a type of resolution in which stars fall from the sky and every mountain and island moves from its place. The end of all things is foretold in Revelation 6:15-17: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’” Who will survive when Almighty God pours out His wrath?
Revelation 7 answers that question. Who is able to stand? The answer is the redeemed from every tribe and language and people and nation, including from every tribe of Israel. They are sealed and chosen, and they are the redeemed. This is the success of the Gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” I want to be part of that multitude. Through faith in Christ will you be there, covered in white by the atoning work of Christ? That is the point of redemptive history, that multitude around the throne in Heaven forever.
Revelation 8 and 9 depict the beginning of what I consider to be the final phase of human history, what many call the Great Tribulation — the final seven years. It starts with seven trumpet judgments which emanate from the seventh seal. These judgments bring cataclysms that have never happened on earth before. They are not only in John’s future, but ours as well.
With the first trumpet blast, a third of the plants and all the green grass is burned up. The second trumpet sounds and a third of the sea is turned to blood, killing a third of the living creatures in it. The third trumpet turns a third of the fresh waters turned bitter. With the fourth trumpet, a third of the sun, the moon and the stars are struck, reducing their light on the earth. The fifth trumpet summons demons from the Abyss, pouring up like billowing smoke from a furnace to plague the earth. The inhabitants of earth are bitten with scorpion-like stings. They long for death but cannot die. This lasts for five months. The sixth trumpet sounds, calling forth a huge demonic army to move out over the surface of the earth. The army kills a third of the population of the earth. Nothing like this has ever been seen in human history. These terrifying judgments will change the face of the earth and will usher in the final phase of history. They will erase national boundaries and send the human population into upheaval.
John pauses his narrative at this point to give us a glimpse into the invisible spiritual realm. In Revelation 10, a mighty angel gives John a scroll. He is commanded to eat it and to prophesy to many nations, which he does by writing the book of Revelation.
Revelation 11 brings the seventh trumpet judgment, which ushers in the final phase of human history.
Revelation 12 gives us an insight into the spiritual realm, which is vital, we need to understand, we are so materialist in the West, we're scientific. We don't see the spiritual realm, we need to see it by faith, behind all of this wickedness, there is an enemy, Satan, portrayed in Revelation 12 is a giant dragon, also called the serpent, the Devil who leads the whole world astray. He's portrayed in that chapter, Revelation 12 as mighty and powerful, but also defeated again and again, he's far more powerful than we are, and yet he's thwarted again and again, he stands in front of the pregnant woman to devour the male child, but he can't do it. He pursues the woman he's gonna try to destroy her, but he can't do it, he tries to take over Heaven, but he can't do it, and is thrown down to earth with a third of the stars, referring to the demons. He tries to pursue the offspring from the woman, who is Israel, the offspring are believers who follow Christ.
Revelation 12 gives us an insight into the spiritual realm, which is vital to understand. We are materialist and scientific-minded in the West, believing only what we can see and prove. We do not see the spiritual realm, but we must to see it by faith. Behind all of this wickedness, there is an enemy, Satan, portrayed in Revelation 12 as a giant dragon, also called the serpent, the devil, who leads the whole world astray. He is portrayed in Revelation 12 as mighty and far more powerful than we are, but also thwarted and defeated again and again. He stands in front of a pregnant woman, Israel, to devour her male child, Christ, but he cannot. He pursues the woman to destroy her, but he cannot. He tries to take over Heaven, but he cannot. Instead, he is thrown down to earth with a third of the stars, or angels, which refers to demons. He tries to pursue the further offspring of the woman, which are believers who follow Christ. Revelation 12:17 says, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” This describes a vast, vicious satanic persecution on the Church, believers in Christ.
Revelation 13 reveals Satan’s masterpiece of destruction, the consummation of what he sought to do in the human race — the Beast from the Sea, which is a worldwide wicked empire that unifies all nations under one head, the Antichrist. The beast then becomes one person ruling over the one-world empire. Another beast, the Beast from the Earth, becomes the false prophet to validate the Beast from the Sea. This beast organizes a worldwide religion, obsoleting all the other religions, to focus on the Antichrist. All the people of the earth who are not chosen before the foundation of the world, not elect, will bow down and worship the beast and his image. They will receive the Mark of the Beast on their forehead or hand to be able to buy and sell. This worldwide empire is a vast satanic consummation of what he sought to do in the human race from the beginning.
Revelation 14 shows God’s incessant warnings and pleas through human evangelists who do not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and they boldly, courageously witness in that final phase of human history. God also gives dire warnings through John to people not to receive the Mark of the Beast, lest they burn in Hell forever.
Revelation 16 reveals the seven bowl judgments, the seven last plagues that God causes to fall from Heaven to earth, preparing the way for the end of the world. After these, the world cannot long survive, not even for weeks. The first bowl produces ugly festering sores on the bodies of earth’s inhabitants. The second and third bowls turn the entire ocean to blood, kill every living creature in the sea, and turn all the fresh water on the earth to blood, which is why we cannot long endure after that. The end will come within a very short amount of time.
The fourth bowl causes the sun to scorch people with blistering heat. The fifth bowl plunges the earth into a deep darkness. The sixth bowl prompts, by demonic influence, a huge army from all over the world to gather for the final battle, called Armageddon, for which Jesus returns.
As the final battle is set up, John pauses to explain the world system, which he calls Babylon the Great. In Revelation 17, she is portrayed as a harlot, a prostitute, alluring the world to wickedness and sin and sexual immorality, drinking the blood of the saints. She is also portrayed as the great city that rules all earth in Revelation 18. She is the world system of commerce and materialism and prosperity. 1 John 2 describes it as “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life.”
In Revelation 18, Babylon the Great is cast down, destroyed forever. In Mark, regarding the temple, Jesus asked his disciples to observe the massive stones. He told them not one stone would be left on another; every one would be thrown down. It was just one building, the temple, but Revelation 18 demonstrates this judgment of God — all of the stones of human design will be cast down with a great crash. Those who are affected are people who have built their house on the sand; the rain comes and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against that house, and it fasll with a great crash. The sound of that crash is described at the end of Revelation 18.
Revelation 19 brings a sound of celebration. Without the context, Revelation 19:3 makes little sense. It would seem cruel — what kind of twisted people would celebrate the smoke of torment rising forever? As we come to Revelation 19, we need to keep in mind the call that Revelation 18:4-5 has given to us: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.” The Lord is calling us to come out.
The overall message is “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, for in His sovereign kingly rule, he has destroyed the great harlot of Babylon, and He has rescued his bride from her filthy clutches.” In the middle of the chapter, God Himself commands the people to praise him. This praise is overpowering and jubilant; it cascades and flows in a mighty overpowering roar. Yet, it seems difficult to grasp how it will be possible to celebrate such destruction and judgment. Hold onto this thought: any reticence toward understanding and joining the Heavenly celebration comes in part from the fact that we are now still a bit hung over by the cup in the hand of the great harlot. We have drunk from that cup, and we are still overcome by a haze in our minds and our souls. When we get to Heaven, that will be cleared up, and we will understand.
Hallelujah! For Babylon is Destroyed
Revelation 19:1-2: “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Who celebrates? A great multitude in Heaven, the redeemed from every tribe and language and people and nation on earth. They have been protected by God’s power in this present evil age, and in Heaven they celebrate God’s victory.
Babylon is like a witch, with an intoxicating spell to cast on people. Revelation 18:23 says, “By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.” The phrase “magic spell” comes from the Greek pharmakeia, from which we get “pharmaceutical.” It is a sense of being drugged, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings when he was stung by the massive spider, Shelob, wrapped up with sticky webbing. He was not dead but left for the spider to return later to devour him. The pharmakeia, the magic spells, of Babylon have similar effect. We are in a drug-induced haze. Even we who have been converted and have the mind of Christ still do not see the world like we should, as we will in Heaven. In Heaven at last, our heads and our hearts will be clear. We will breathe in the pure Heavenly air. We will see the glory of the kingdom of God and we will see the despicable, wicked, twisted nature of Babylon.
How Do They Celebrate?
The people in Heaven celebrate with mighty voices. Nothing is done halfway in Heaven or with any hesitation. The Lord’s prayer says, “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!” This means fully and immediately. Let us praise like they do in Heaven.
Mighty voices praise God in Heavenly worship, saying, “Hallelujah! — Praise the Lord! All of you join in praising the Lord; one cannot praise alone. Let us praise the Lord together!” It is a plural imperative. Praise and worship, because in Heaven Babylon the Great will never trouble us again. We will never be allured by her again. We will never have another wicked or idolatrous or lustful or prideful or selfish thought. Those days are over forever. Hallelujah! This great enemy that was the world’s system is thrown down like a millstone to the bottom of the ocean.
They say, “Salvation and power belong to our God.” The word “salvation” indicates that the redeemed in Heaven know they were saved out of Babylon. We were part of her but we were saved by God. Salvation belongs to our God, and the power belongs to our God. We could not have changed our own hearts. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” We could not have said on our own, “I do not like Babylon. I will come over to the kingdom of Heaven.” In our own strength, we are controlled by the mind of the flesh. It is impossible for us to change ourselves.
But God takes out our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh. He saves us by His power. We will know it in Heaven even more than we do now. Romans 8:5-8 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.” We were rescued out of that.
Ephesians 2:1-9 describes how we were at one time part of Babylon the Great. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Salvation and power belong to our God, or we would be suffering eternal torment with them.
It takes power to save you. My engineering mind loves machines like the Saturn V rocket, which is the heaviest, most powerful flying machine that man ever designed. 7.5 million pounds of thrust can put 300,000 pounds in outer space. It requires so much thrust because of the earth’s gravitational pull. Babylon the Great pulls on us like earth’s gravity, back into wickedness and sin. It has taken infinite power to save us from that pull. That is why “Salvation and power belong to our God!”
The power of God is also displayed in Babylon’s crushing defeat. The final Babylon, the system of Antichrist, will more powerful than Nazi Germany or the Iron Curtain ever was. Incredible power will be required to defeat the vast system of wickedness with Satan behind it. Such power is nothing to God; the battle will not be difficult for Jesus. His might and power and omnipotence will be on display at the destruction of Babylon.
Hallelujah! For Babylon’s Torment is Eternal
No Hesitation to Celebrate
We also see justice and righteousness on display in her destruction. Revelation 19:2: “…for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” She either enticed and allured Christians to sin, or she crushed and incarcerated them and seized their possessions and freedom and tortured and killed them. It is true that she deserves to die; it is just that she will die. True and just are God’s judgments. Therefore, the inhabitants of Heaven show no reticence. They do not shrink back or hesitate to celebrate; there is no pity in Heaven for Babylon the Great.
Hallelujah! for Babylon’s torment is eternal. Revelation 19:3: “And again they shouted: ‘Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.’” Hallelujah for that. This may trouble some of us. Why would the saints in Heaven celebrate the eternal torment of human beings? Imagine if you heard that a person or a group of people would suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire, and some responded, “Praise the Lord!” Something would seem wrong with that perspective.
But our hesitation to celebrate this final vision shows how much we underestimate the damage of the wickedness of Babylon the Great to us and to our brothers and sisters. These heavenly worshippers are not smug. They know they were redeemed by grace through faith. In Heaven we will be sober-minded, and we will see clearly and realize that God is just in what he does.
We will be like the angel pouring out the bowl on the the fresh waters. In Revelation 16:5-6, he says, “Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; [You are just because you did it. Everything God does is just] for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’” The angels and the redeemed celebrate.
Celebrating God’s Justice
Revelation 14:11 says, “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” Hell is all about eternal conscious torment. Therefore in Heaven, the saints will be very aware of the torment of the damned. God the Father will not hide it from the children. Isaiah 66:24 says, “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
Why did God knit these people together in their mothers’ wombs only to end up in eternal torment? Paul gives a clear answer in Romans 9:22-24: “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us…” It was so that we would know how much grace was shown to us, so we would be saved in such a way that we would be humbled forever by it. By contrast, we will know what we deserved because we can see it. But in Heaven, Revelation 21:4 says there will be no mourning or crying or pain — no grief at all.
It is understandable to have a hard time grasping that. We are not there yet. We are in the day of salvation now, and we yearn for individuals to come out of Babylon. It is reasonable for us to weep as Jesus wept over Jerusalem and to have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in our hearts like Paul said he had for unbelieving Jews (Romans 9). But we also need to look at Babylon, the system, properly. Do not be like Lot’s wife. Jesus warned not to look back at what God will destroy, like Sodom and Gomorrah, fire and brimstone. Luke 17:32-33: “Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life [in Sodom or in Babylon] will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Do not try to hold on to your Babylonian life. Revelation 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”
Hallelujah! All Heaven is Agreed
Labor, Grieve, Celebrate and Anticipate Now
All heaven is agreed in this; there is no pocket of hesitation or uncertainty in heaven. There is full participation in the celebration. Revelation 19:4 says, “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: ‘Amen, Hallelujah!’” All the elders, the living creatures, and 100 million angels say Amen! to the fact that the smoke of her torment rises forever and ever.
In verse 5, Jesus commands His servants to do this. Revelation 19:5: “Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!’” Though the voice from the throne is seen as God’s voice, I say it is Jesus’s voice because he uses the same language as when he calls to the disciples, “My Father and your Father, my God and your God.” He says, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” He is commanding us to praise God, to say Hallelujah! in our hearts for the final destruction of this system of Babylon. At the same time we weep over individuals, striving in reference to them that they be rescued, going as the missionaries we send out do to serve individuals and share the Gospel with them, lest they also be destroyed. That is why we do missions and evangelism. We should look at Durham — every city — and its inhabitants as the City of Destruction — not just one building but every stone on every building will be thrown down, destroyed. We must tell people. There is grief and sorrow now, but in the future, there will be none. We will look back and be delighted and rejoice.
Hallelujah! God Omnipotent Reigns
The Omnipotence of God
Revelation 19:6: “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.’” The King James version is much more famous: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” This is where the text of the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel’s Messiah cam from. This mighty waterfall of praise, like Niagara Falls, saying, Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! In 1741, when he was writing Messiah, a friend came in and found him weeping over sheets of music strewn all over the room. He said, “Whether I was in the body or out of the body as I wrote it, I know not. God knows. But I think I did see all Heaven opened before me and the Great God Himself.”
That was his reaction as God gave him a foretaste of this Heavenly celebration. They are celebrating the reign of the omnipotent God, the God who has all power in Heaven, earth, and under the earth. No one can hold back his hand, no one can resist him, no one can stop him. This Almighty, omnipotent God reigns as a king over all things. Hallelujah!
This is the one who raised Antichrist up for this very purpose, as He said to the wicked Pharaoh in Romans 9:17: “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” God allows monsters and tyrants to be raised up, and then he effortlessly defeats them.
Hallelujah! The Lamb’s Bride is Ready
Revelation 19:7-8: “‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” This is a tone of overpowering joy and celebration of what God has done: the destruction of Babylon was to make ready for the bride of Christ and her wedding day to come. The harlot of Babylon in Revelation 17 stands in contrast to the beautiful bride of Christ in Revelation 21. She will be radiant, and she will be ready. Great joy comes from the triumph and the power, and God deserves all glory for it. The time of the wedding banquet has come, a great strong metaphor for the celebration we will all enjoy in Heaven as the bride groom, Jesus, and the bride are joined together forever.
The bride has made herself ready, and in Revelation 21, she is made ready by God — she descends from God prepared. That is the partnership that we have in sanctification: once we have come to faith in Christ, we are called on to purify ourselves from all unrighteousness, to put sin to death by the power of the Spirit, to do the works of mortification of sin, of holiness, of evangelism and service. These righteous acts are the linen, it says, that we are given to wear, so we will have made ourselves ready. Though she was defiled, sinful and corrupt, having come from Babylon, it was granted to her to wear white on her wedding day, What a gift of grace. We will be seen to be pure and holy on that day. Christ has been getting her ready, all of this time. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” She is ready, and the time has come.
John Wrote It Down
God Willed that This Be Written
Praise God that John wrote it down. Revelation 19:9: “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” God willed that this be written down. Here and in many other subtexts, we are hereby invited through the word of God through the Gospel to partake in the wedding banquet of the Lamb. Jesus told a parable about this in Matthew 22:2-5: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off-- one to his field, another to his business.”
But there is an invitation now to all of us to come to the wedding banquet, to trust in Christ, to find forgiveness of sins, to be covered in his imputed righteousness. When we do, the Spirit dwells in us and we begin to cover ourselves with righteous works of holiness and service to God. Matthew 8:11 says, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Your invitation has been issued. Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, and I will give you a place at the banquet table. Trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
Covered by Grace
Revelation 19:10: “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’” This is a weakness of God’s servants. The Bible is very honest about its heroes’ foibles and sins and rebellions and problems. This was a problem. John was so overcome by this angel that he fell down in worship, but the angel told him to stop, admonishing that angels and the redeemed are fellow servants. They were serving and worshiping the same God. One proof of the deity of Christ is that he did accept worship. People feel at his feet to worship Him as God. Thomas at his resurrection, said, “My Lord and my God”, and Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed [that I am God and you should fall down and worship me].” The angel would not accept worship. His statement that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” means that throughout the Old Testament, through all of the prophets, the spirit of prophecy was testifying to Jesus.
Come to Christ
Accept God’s gracious invitation. You are invited to flee Babylon and to come to the wedding banquet now. What are you waiting for? What more gracious invitation could come? All of your sins will be forgiven by the atoning blood of Jesus. You do not need to do any works to forgive yourself or to be justified. All you need is, by faith, to trust in Christ.
Come Out from Her and Be Separate
This command stands over all of us: Come out of Babylon, O people of God, and be separate. Find out how the Babylonian spirit is in you. How are you worldly? How is your mind affected by Babylon? How is your heart drawn out after money and entertainment and pleasure and power and earthly things? What corrupting influences does Babylon The Great have on your heart? Come out and be separate. Jesus said to cut off your right hand or gouge out your right eye if it is leading you to sin. Take whatever decisive measures you can take to put sin to death. Come out.
Warn People that they Live in the City of Destruction
Warn people, like John Bunyan did in 1672 in Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian, the pilgrim in the allegory, realizes by reading the Word, “I live in the City of Destruction.” He wants to know, “How can I escape?” The evangelist came and pointed him to the light of the Gospel in Christ. That is the only way. Our job is to warn people who are pursuing Babylonian things in their daily routines. Talk to them about these very things, and God will use you as an evangelist, a messenger to help people cross over from death to life.
Lord, thank you for the time we have had to study Revelation 19:1-10. Thank you for the fourfold Hallelujah that we can hear only by faith. Lord, enable us to worship you now on earth as you are presently worshipped in Heaven. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.