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18 October 2019

The Heavenly Celebration - (Revelation 19:1-10)

John is shown New Jerusalem
The book of Revelation now provides a detailed description of and justification for the destruction of Babylon, the “great city.” Her downfall is the product of the hatred of the “ten horns” allied with the Beast in their God-driven campaign to desolate and “burn her utterly with fire” (Revelation 17:16).
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(REVELATION 19:1-4) – “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And, again, they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia” [Source:  The Emphasized Bible].
A great voice of a great multitude in heaven.” “Multitude” translates the Greek noun oxlos (cp. Revelation 7:9, 17:15). The phrase is verbally parallel to the description of the “innumerable multitude” that John saw coming out of the “great tribulation” to stand before the Lamb and the Throne in the New Creation (Revelation 7:15-17, 21:3-4, 22:1-5):
(Revelation 7:9-10) – “Behold, a great multitude that no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
The King James Version translates the clause “much people”; however, the Greek term for “people” or laos is not present in the text, which does not specify whether this “multitude” consists of humans, angels, or something else. The voice of the multitude does refer to God’s “servants” in the third person. In verse 4, it is the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders that worship before the throne. In Chapter 5, a great myriad of voices that included angels and all creation proclaimed the Lamb worthy.
Most relevant, the “voice of a great multitude in heaven” is a verbal link to the seventh trumpet or third woe when after the seventh angel sounded, “there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15-19). This “multitude” is, most probably, identical to the heavenly multitude heard in the seventh trumpet.
For true and righteous are his judgments.” The same attributes are given to God for His righteous judgments during the seven bowls of wrath. This is deliberate; it links the victory over the Harlot to the seven bowls that completed God’s wrath:
(Revelation 15:3) – “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; righteous and true are your ways.”
(Revelation 16:5-7) – “You are righteous, O Lord…because you judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you gave them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.”
She “corrupted the earth with her fornication, and He has avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” The language is intended to recall the condemnation of “Jezebel” and her activities in Thyatira; already, Babylon is within the churches of Asia. When interpreting the later visions of Revelation, the reader must not lose sight of the historical context. The victims of the Harlot and the beneficiaries of the victory over her include the churches of Asia:
(Revelation 2:20) – “But I have this against thee, that you tolerated the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess; and she teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.”
And her smoke ascended for ever and ever.” The clause is an allusion to Isaiah 34:10 where Edom, representing the nations of the earth, was condemned by Yahweh to becoming “burning pitch”:
(Isaiah 34:1-10) – “Come near ye nations to hear, And ye races attend, — Let the earth hear and the fulness thereof, The world and all things produced therefrom: That Yahweh hath wrath against all the nations, and indignation against all their host…For a day of avenging, hath Yahweh, — A year of requitals for the quarrel of Zion. Then shall the torrents thereof be turned into pitch, And the dust thereof into brimstone, — So shall her land become burning pitch: Neither night nor day shall it be quenched, to times everlasting shall ascend the smoke thereof” [The Emphasized Bible].
Twice in the larger passage, the saints are labeled God’s “servants” or douloi (verses 2 and 5). Elsewhere, those who belong to Jesus are called the “servants” of God (e.g., Revelation 1:1, 2:20, 7:3).
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(REVELATION 19:5-9) – “And a voice from the throne came forth, saying — Be giving praise unto our God, all ye his servants, ye that revere him, the small and the great. And I heard as a voice of a great multitude, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of mighty thunders, saying — Hallelujah! Because the Lord, [our] God, the Almighty, hath become king. Let us rejoice and exult, and give glory unto him, because the marriage of the Lamb, is come, and his wife hath made herself ready; and it hath been given unto her, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, bright, pure, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he saith unto me — Write! Happy, they who unto the marriage supper of the Lamb have been bidden! And he saith unto me — These words are true [words] of God” [Source:  The Emphasized Bible].
A voice from the throne.” This is the voice heard previously when the seventh bowl of wrath was poured out on Babylon, “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done” (Revelation 16:17). It is appropriate that the same voice now praises God for the destruction of Babylon, the “great city.”
A voice of many waters, and as a voice of mighty thunders.” This same description was given to the one “like a Son of Man” from John’s first vision on Patmos, the one whose “feet were like fine brass…and his voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:15).
The “voice” or “sound like mighty thunders” recalls the refrain first heard before the heavenly throne, then heard again at the end of the seven seals, trumpets, and the seven bowls of wrath as the “lightnings and thunders and voices” (Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18). Thus, the judgment of Babylon in Chapter 19 coincides with the conclusions of each of the three sevenfold series.
The “voice of many waters” and the “voice of a great thunder” also recall the “voice from heaven” heard when the Lamb was seen with his servants on Zion (Revelation 14:2 – “I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder”).
Because the Lord, [our] God, the Almighty, has become king.” This statement links this celebration to the conclusion of the seventh trumpet where the kingdoms of the earth became the kingdom of God:
(Revelation 11:15-19) – “And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God…and there followed lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
The marriage of the Lamb, is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” This is the first mention of the marriage of the Lamb and his wife. Likely, behind the image are passages from Isaiah that pictured Zion as Yahweh’s bride (e.g., Isaiah 62:1-5, Isaiah 66:1-5).
In Revelation 21:2, the “holy city, New Jerusalem,” is seen descending from heaven to the earth “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” If the “marriage” is now to take place, presumably, the narrative here has reached the same point as the vision of Chapter 21 or, at least, it anticipates it.
The “wife” of the Lamb is a female figure in order to contrast New Jerusalem, the “holy city,” to the “great harlot,” Babylon. “She should be arrayed in fine linen, bright, pure, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” This is a deliberate contrast to the Harlot who John saw “arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4).
The description of the “wife” parallels the promises made to overcomers in the letters to the churches of Asia. It also recalls the “clothing” worn by the members of the innumerable multitude that came out of the “great tribulation”:
(Revelation 3:5) – “He that overcomes, the same shall be arrayed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
(Revelation 3:18) – “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be arrayed.”
(Revelation 7:9-14) – “After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes…These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
The “righteous deeds of the saints” would include their obedience to the Lamb and the commandments of God but, in the book of Revelation, primarily in view are the faithfulness and the perseverance of the saints in their witness and their willingness to endure martyrdom (Revelation 1:8-9, 12:11).
Those called to the marriage of the Lamb are called “blessed.” This is one of seven beatitudes in the book that comprise a list of exhortations to the churches of Asia (cp. Revelation 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14).
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(REVELATION 19:10) – “And I fell down at his feet, to do him homage; and he saith unto me — See! [thou do it] not! A fellow-servant am I of thee and of thy brethren who have the witness of Jesus: unto God, do homage! For, the witness of Jesus, is the spirit of the prophecy” [Source:  The Emphasized Bible].
This reaction of John is to render homage to the interpreting angel. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by his visionary experiences. This act parallels his reaction at the end of his visions:
(Revelation 22:8-9) – “And I John saw these things and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”
The Greek term rendered “worship” means to “render homage”; it is not necessarily the same act as the worship of a deity in a religious sense. It could refer to rendering homage or allegiance to a person of higher rank (proskuneoe.g., Revelation 3:9). However, the battle in this book is over whether one gives homage to the Dragon or to God (Revelation 13:4-15). This incident is probably included to reinforce the idea that allegiance belongs to God and the Lamb, period.
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This repeats a theme found elsewhere in the book. By “testimony” is meant more than a book or a case of a believer sharing the gospel with a neighbor. To bear the “testimony of Jesus” is to risk all by following in his footsteps. The ultimate “witness” for him is martyrdom.
The book of Revelation equates this “testimony of Jesus” with “prophecy,” perhaps, because the persecution of the saints confirms the righteous judgments of God that will fall upon the unrighteous who persecute the saints. Note below how each passage links the “testimony of Jesus” with the saints suffering persecution for him:
(Revelation 1:9) – “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
(Revelation 6:9) – “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.”
(Revelation 11:7) – “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
(Revelation 12:11) – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
(Revelation 12:17) – “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
(Revelation 20:4) – “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands.”

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