Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 19 (can you believe it)? You say well, I’m sure glad we’re finished with all that Babylon stuff. Well… not quite, almost. Revelation 19, looking today as God allows it verses 1-6. The title of our message is A Party in Heaven. If you’re a Christian that likes to party you’ll be very happy with these verses because there’s a big party in our future. And as you’re turning there I just want to make you aware of one issue if I could. When I was in the Dallas area in a Sunday School class we had a gal in that particular Sunday School class that when she inhaled anything that was chemical, which would be perfume, hairspray, those kinds of things, she would literally lock up and she shad such a bad reaction to it that she had to dismiss herself from the service. And so that was sort of a first time I became aware that there are people that have those sort of olfactory issues, very real medical issues.
And just like in every congregation we have a few of those in our own flock so I would just sort of ask you to think about this when you sort of lather up to come to church. [Laughter] You say well gee, now what are you going to do, start the perfume police? You’ve already told us we can’t have coffee in here. NO, there will be no perfume police but it’s interesting, the New Testament is not a bunch of rules that God has given it; He’s given us principles and one of those principles you’ll find in 1 Corinthians 8 and 9, which I would challenge you to read this afternoon; it’s about our freedoms in Christ. As a Christian you have a lot of freedom to do a lot of things but sometimes God asks us to set aside certain freedoms that we have if it will benefit somebody else.
So if we were like a mega church we would just say okay, we’re going to start a non-perfume service. [Laughter] You know, mega churches have everything so specialized, now we’ve got the perfume service, the non-perfume service. So obviously we’re not big enough to do that nor is our building big enough so when you come in here with perfume and all of those wonderful scented things, hair spray and all kinds of things, it’s wonderful for me to smell it, in fact, I don’t really care what you all smell like, did you all notice that? [Laughter] I mean, as long as you take a shower once a week [Laughter] I’m good with that! But for other people it’s very difficult; it makes life difficult for them as a worshipper as part of our church. So rather than kind of get mad at the pastor because he’s opposing rules just run it through you 1 Corinthians 8 and 9 grid and try to think about that as you get yourself ready to come to church. The less chemical stuff you have on the better. Some of you don’t need hairspray anyway, [laughter] I’m seeing a lot of heads that really don’t need it. I don’t know if that’s too much of a sacrifice. [Laughter] So we understand each other.
Anyway, what do you want to talk about today? [More laughter] Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Revelation 19:1, as we learn about this heavenly party that’s coming. Of course we’re in a section of the Book of Revelation where the seventh bowl judgment has been unleashed upon earth and one of the things that happens with bowl number seven is the destruction of a city named Babylon. Chapter 16 verse 19 announces the destruction of Babylon. [Revelation 16:19, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.’]
And then you get to chapter 17 and verse 1 and the angel says this: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” So what you have in chapter 17 verse 1 all the way through chapter 17, all the way through chapter 18, all the way through chapter 19 verse 6 is sort of an expansion on this subject of Babylon. This is one of five times that the chronology of the Book of Revelation stops and you’re given information in something that just happened in the chronology. So that’s what you have in this inclusio, this sort of inclusion I should say of the destruction of Babylon.
Chapter 17 was about the religious side of the city of Babylon. Chapter 18 is about the commercial or political side of the city. And by the time we get out of chapter 18 we learn that Babylon is going to fall just as a stone, actually a millstone sinks with great speed into the Euphrates River. So Babylon has fallen. The inhabitants of the earth are mourning or crying because of this, particularly the king and the merchants who have become wealthy because of Babylon, they’re obviously crying. But heaven itself, actually beginning in chapter 18 verse 20 is celebrating. [Revelation 18:20, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”]
So what the world mourns heaven rejoices in. And this celebration is so intense it continues in the form of what I would call a heavenly party, into chapter 19 verses 1-6. [Revelation 19:1-6, “after these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;  because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.”  And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.”  And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”  And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”  Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the LORD our God, the Almighty, reigns.”]
And in this heavenly party, now we’re in heaven, we’re seeing the reaction of heaven to the destruction of Babylon, you have essentially four groups or entities celebrating. Number one is a group called the great multitude, verses 1-3. Number two is the twenty-four elders. And you want to know what you fit into the prophecy, that’s you, you’re in that group represented by the twenty-four elders. You have the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures celebrating, verse 4. And then a throne starts to talk, verse 5, it joins in the celebration. And then the whole thing concludes again with “a great multitude, verse 6, celebrating.
So notice, if you will the “great multitude” as we start. We have an introduction and we have two statements called Hallelujah’s. Notice this introduction; notice if you will Revelation 19 and notice if you will verse 1, “after these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,” you’ll notice it says here “after these things” meta touta in the Greek, and then it follows by a verb of perception, “I heard,” so this is narrating something that’s happening in this same sequence. It’s just God is telling these different visions to John in a particular order but it all concerns this seventh bowl judgment and the destruction of Babylon.
You’ll notice this expression “something like,” John has said that many, many times in his book. In fact, down in verse 6, if we get to it, you’ll see that there are three “something like.” Those are what you call similes where you’re comparing two things with the word like or as. It’s a figure of speech. And why does God keep saying “something like” “something like,” “something like,” all the way through the book? It relates to his assignment and I don’t think I would really want this assignment that God gave to John. God told John back in the first century “write in a book what you see and send it to the churches. [Revelation 1:11, “saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”]
God says I’m going to show it and write it down. And a lot of the things that hare happening in this book are way outside of John’s timeframe. They’re way beyond his pay grade (so to speak). And he’s being shown things that could happen in the 21st century or later and he’s sort of struggling with words on how to exactly fulfill his assignment and write it down. So he keeps analogizing it to things in his own day, “something like” he says.
And then you’ll notice the subject is this is not just a multitude but a great multitude. And they don’t just have a voice, they have a loud voice. […I heard something like a loud voice] And this party, this heavenly party, this heavenly celebration starts there in verse 1 through this heavenly multitude. And they say something that’s very interesting, and they say it twice, once in the middle of verse 1 and the end of verse 2; the second time in verse 3, and I think by the time we get through verse 6 the expression will be used a total of at least four times. It’s this word here, hallelujah.
Now if you’re around the church world for a while you recognize the word hallelujah but most people have no idea what that means. We sing it all the time but what does this word “hallelujah” actually mean? It’s very simple; it means “Praise the LORD!” exclamation point. And it’s interesting that this word hallelujah, to my knowledge, never occurs in the whole New Testament except right here. You’ll find a reference to Hallelujah all the way back in the Book of Psalms, Psalm 51:1 says “Praise the LORD.” Psalm 150:6 says “Praise the LORD, praise the LORD.” And when you study that in the original language it’s the word or the expression “Hallelujah.” It just means praise the LORD! That’s what it means.
And that’s largely what heaven is going to be like. It’s going to be praise to God over and over and over and over again. My friend, David Hocking, puts it like this. He says in his Revelation commentary, “The word ‘Hallelujah’ is the same in all languages of the world, and it simply means ‘Praise the LORD!’ And not in a quiet expression of prayer but rather the sound of a great voice of much people in heaven.” This outburst of praise sounded like many waters (you’ll see that a little later) and the voice of the mighty thundering. Apparently God is going to change the ability of ears to hear that which is loud because heaven is filled with the word LOUD. We saw it there in verse 1, didn’t we, it talks not just about a voice, phóné, [φωνή], but it talks about a great voice, sometimes in the Book of Revelation it’ll say mega phóné. What does that sound like? It kind of sounds like megaphone doesn’t it?
So this is a large group of people, in fact, they’re not just called a multitude here, they’re called a “great multitude” and they just, at the destruction of Babylon they just can’t contain themselves in heaven and so they shout in this loud voice, as John is trying to describe this as he’s writing it in fulfillment of his job description, they just shout “PRAISE THE LORD!” And that’s largely what heaven is like; it’s loud voices, it’s loud choruses, it’s loud praise and so it’s an astonishing thing.
Now what exactly are they praising God for? You see that in the second part of verse 1 and into verse 2. What does it say? “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory belong to our God.” What are they praising God for exactly? Basically three things. You say well why do I need to know these three things? Because these are the three things we ought to be praising God for now, as sort of a warmup act. I mean, if this is your future then you might as well get into practice now with worship and praise. And why do we do singing in the service? Just to kill up time? Right? NO, it’s an opportunity to praise the LORD.
Well, what exactly would you vocally praise the LORD for? Three things. Number one, salvation. Are you happy about salvation? I am! Jonah chapter 2 verse 9 says, “Salvation is from the LORD.” [Jonah 2:9, “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.”] If God didn’t orchestrate it you wouldn’t have it. So we praise the LORD, number one, for His salvation.
Number two, you’ll see the word “glory” there, doxa, salvation and glory and power belong to our God., doxa, we praise God for His glory because He deserves it. In fact, God is so zealous for His own glory that He will not share His glory with another. Isaiah 42:8 says. [Isaiah 42:8, ““I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”]
See, when you come into a church you shouldn’t come in to praise the senior pastor, you shouldn’t come in to praise a marketing strategy, or a particular church program. You praise the Lord because it’s all about the Lord! We’re just servants of the Lord, as we’ll see in a little bit, bondservants but the praise is always to be directed towards the Lord because He’s the only one that deserves it. Amen! So we praise the Lord for salvation, we praise the Lord for glory, and then we praise the Lord for His power because if He didn’t have power He could never execute salvation and He could never glorify Himself. This word “power” (as you probably know) is the Greek word dunamis, where we get the word dynamite or dynamic. And you’ll notice that they’re saying now your God but “our God.” They’re in heaven, they’re redeemed, God is not some kind of distant removed abstract theological concept; God is something that we walk in relationship with in intimacy.
So He’s not THE God or THAT God, but he is OUR God, He personalizes the whole thing. These folks are just getting warmed up because these praises continue on as you move into Revelation 19, verse 2, “Because His judgments are true and righteous for He has judged the great harlot who is corrupting the earth with her immorality and He has avenged the blood of His bondservant on her.” We are praising the Lord there for His judgments. You know, there’s a lot of people that read the Book of Revelation and they will not praise God for that book.
There’s a lot of people that read the Book of Joshua and they see how God authorized Joshua to go into Canaan and slaughter the Canaanites and they won’t praise God for the Book of Joshua because they look at it as unfair; how could a loving God do this? And yet it’s not the reaction of heaven because heaven itself acknowledges that yes, the judgment that we studied in this book are somewhat harsh but you’ll notice the adjectives “true” and “righteous.” God is true and absolutely righteous in what He has just executed.
So this great multitude in heaven is praising the Lord for these judgments. And more specifically they’re praising the Lord not just for the judgments generically but for something that God specifically did, He just judged the great harlot. The great harlot or the city of Babylon is what just fell in Revelation 17 and 18, via the seventy bowl judgment. And Babylon needed to be judged and she deserved to be judged. Why is that? Because you see right there in verse 2 she was this harlot corrupting the earth with her immorality. As I tried to labor to show this can only be a description of Babylon because this is a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies against Babylon. Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 51:7, that Babylon, who by the way was about to take the nation of Israel into captivity, Babylon is going to be destroyed one day because she has, Jeremiah 51:7, intoxicated the nations. [Jeremiah 51:7, “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad.”]
As we’ve studied this material on Babylon it talks about a city that has intoxicated the whole world. And to my mind there’s only one city that could actually fit that bill and that’s the city of Babylon where the tower of Babel was built originally. In fact, that’s where we get the name Babylon; Babylon comes from that word Babel or Baybel, the capital of Babel, the power of Babel. Because what happened at Babel or Baybel exported the sins of Babylon into every culture. Why? Because the earth, Genesis 11:1, had one language at that time. [Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”]
And when God saw this tragic that was being built, sort of a first United Nations Conference type of thing (as I like to call it), a one-world system that opposed God. God disrupted the language, prevented the builders from cooperating with one another, and they took a little bit of that system into every culture. We’ve studied how the mother-child cult setup begun under Nimrod, the leader of Babylon, or Babel, was exported into the entire world, it’s just the names changed from place to place. No other city can make this claim of corrupting the whole earth—Babylon can! Other cities of the earth absorb the system but they were never the creators or the progenitors of that system. And as that system went into the whole world you’ll notice that God analogizes it to immorality. It is so interesting to me to study how the Scripture analogizes false doctrine and embracing false doctrine to sexual immorality.
James, chapter 4 and verse 4, James tells the folks that he is writing to who are experimenting with false doctrine and worldliness, he says to them, “You adulteresses,” an interesting imagery, “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” When the nation of Israel rebelled against God, God typically calls Israel (the Book of Hosea for example), the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 16, the Book of Ezekiel chapter 23, many places, He called Israel a prostitute or a harlot. Why does God analogize false living and false teaching to harlotry? Because God has designed us to be in intimacy with Him and when we leave Him for another gospel or another doctrine it’s like one’s spouse leaving her husband for another man in God’s mind. And you think of the injury that occurs to somebody when they know that their spouse has been unfaithful. That’s the feelings of God in His heart towards us when we embrace other gods instead of Him and so you find this analogy to sexual immorality.
As we continue on in these verses, in verse 2 it says, “… For He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality,” and notice what it says, it’s like heaven is celebrating her destruction, “and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her.” The word bondservants is very interesting to me, it’s the Greek word doulos; it basically means a common place. That’s what the disciple of Jesus Christ is analogized to. It’s interesting that when the apostles wrote letters they didn’t do like we do today, to spend the first page or two touting our credentials, what school we went to, how smart we are, what our spiritual gifts are, how long we’ve been in ministry for. I mean, that’s sort of standard operating procedure within evangelicalism today. But it’s interesting to me the apostles never did that even though they went to the greatest school that could ever be, walking with Jesus in His earthly life. They just simply called themselves bond-servants. The Greek word doulos. Peter, 2 Peter 1:1, the very first verse of the book, says “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
Paul, think of his credentials, and yet what does Paul say at the beginning of probably his most well-known book, the Book of Romans, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” [Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”] And what is a bondservant or a slave? It’s somebody who exists to execute the will of somebody else. And if you want to become a disciple of Christ that is essentially what we are being called to. This is what the Lord wants out of all of us.
Romans 12:1, Paul says, “Therefore” he’s explaining to other people how they can become bondservants. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Why would I do that? Not because my goodness, if I don’t do that I’m going to end up in hell! If I trusted in Christ as my Savior I’m not going to end up in hell, I have the promises of eternal security and assurance of salvation at the point of faith alone in Christ alone. Well then why go into this walk of discipleship presenting my whole body unto the Lord?
He’s obviously not talking to unbelievers to do this because He calls them “brethren,” Romans 12:1. He’s telling believers to do this. Why would I do that? Well, Paul says that’s what’s reasonable. I mean, look at what Jesus did for you; look at the price that he paid to redeem you to Himself. Isn’t that the reasonable act of service to therefore come to the Lord as a Christian and say you know Lord, for the rest of my life it’s not going to be my will any more or my choices, or my decisions and my ambitions. You just do what you want in this body. And so we, as we take on that mindset we see ourselves as bondservants, common slaves.
And these bondservants have been persecuted by Babylon. Babylon has spilled their blood. We’ve studied that in Revelation 17:6, “And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints…. Revelation 18:24, “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints [and of all who have been slain on the earth.]” Babylon spilled a lot of blood throughout time. Babylon is going to spill a lot of blood throughout the tribulation period. And now what has happened is all of that blood that’s been spilled is about to be avenged and is being avenged with the destruction of Babylon. Babylon is a violent city and system. That too is one of Jeremiah’s prophecies in Jeremiah 51:49, he says, “Indeed Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, and also for Babylon the slain of all the earth have fallen.”
And so now those that have been persecuted by Babylon are in heaven, some perhaps still on the earth celebrating the destruction of this city because of all of the blood that she has spilled throughout the tribulation period and throughout the ages of time. If Babylon is in Babylon, modern day Iraq, it is interesting to me Islam’s control of that part of the world and the blood, the persecution. I remember the old days of Saddam Hussein just taking people, dissenters, and just throwing them off multistory buildings. I mean, total brutality! Islam is just running rampant in the world. And I can tell you about this on CNN by the way, but everywhere Islam goes, everywhere Islam spreads it’s always the same; once they get the political upper hand they begin to use believers in power to persecute those, like ourselves, that won’t bow the knee to Islam. And fortunately we live in a country where we have some semblance of freedom remaining but I’ll tell you one thing, they don’t have that in Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Iraq, or any other Middle Eastern country. And the moment you name the name of Christ you are immediately [can’t understand word] the sum of persecution. Bloody Babylon! But now heaven is rejoicing because Babylon has fallen.
We come to this great multitude and we look at her second hallelujah. You’ll see that there in verse 3, and it says this, “And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” Now they’re not just saying “Hallelujah” once, they’re saying it a second time. The word second is the Greek word duetero, and you actually might recognize one of the titles of a book in your Bible, the Book of Deuteronomy. Deutero—second, nomos—law, second law. That’s what the Book of Deuteronomy is, it’s the second law. It’s not a new ten commandments, it’s the same ones that were given forty years earlier to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, but it’s now being reapplied to a new generation as they’re about ready to enter Canaan under the conquest of Joshua and before they do that God is now dealing with the second generation that came out of Egypt. He gave them a book to tell them how to act in the land, restating the Law of Moses to a new generation, called The Book of Deuteronomy.
And to my knowledge that’s really what ministry is. Ministry is not about inventing new truths! There are many people that think you go into ministry to give people something new. NO YOU DON’T! You may say it a different way. You might do it in a slightly different way. We have all of this cyberspace technology that we can use that prior generations couldn’t use. What we’re saying is the exact same thing, we’re just applying it afresh to a new generation. And that’s what’s happening in the Book of Deuteronomy, until you have this second Deutero hallelujah, they say the second time. I think they’re going to say the total of four times before these verses are completed.
And they say something very interesting as they’re singing unto the Lord, this great multitude, concerning the destruction of Babylon, they say “Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” In other words, throughout the thousand year kingdom, which is now on the horizon, there will always be a remembrance of the destruction of Babylon because her smoke just keeps going up and up and up and up for at least a thousand years, if I’m reading this correctly.
You say well, you can’t do that, I mean, the millennium is a new creation, right? I mean, you can’t have smoking Babylon in the millennium can you? Well, don’t confuse millennium with eternal state; they are two totally different things. In the millennium sin is restrained; in the eternal state sin is removed. In the millennium curse restrained, eternal state curse removed. Millennium you still have death to some extent; no death in the eternal state. Millennium you’ve got mortals and resurrected people living together; not in the eternal state, resurrected people only! In the millennium there’s still the need to evangelize because you will have descendants of those who survived the tribulation period who entered the kingdom in their mortal bodies having children and their children having children, so fresh generations will always need to be evangelized. But not in the eternal state! All destinies are decided. The millennium is a renovation of this earth; the eternal state is a new earth entirely. The millennium is temporary, it lasts a thousand years. You’ll see that in Revelation 20, the eternal state is just like the word says, ETERNAL! The millennium is designed by God to be a transitional time period; not the eternal state, it goes on forever. You say well gee, pastor, you have a lot of charts up there, I’m sure glad you’re finished with charts because I’m having a hard time absorbing that. Well, let’s put up another chart. [Laughter] I mean, we work really hard on these charts, we’ve got to show them to somebody.
The millennium in terms of time will be a thousand years; the eternal state there is no more time. The millennium you’re going to have the sun and the moon and the stars; you’re not going to have that in the eternal state. In the millennium you’re going to have a functioning temple; not in the eternal state. In the millennium there’s death but not in the eternal state. There’s actually Satanic rebellion at the end of the millennium, but it’s not an issue in the eternal state. There’s rebellion in the millennium but not in the eternal state. And people kind of get upset when you say the smoke is going to keep rising and rising and rising and rising forever, how can you bring smoke into the eternal state? Well the answer is the millennium is completely different than the eternal state.
One of the things people do with the Gog and Magog battle is they place it before the tribulation period even starts. Some of my favorite Bible teachers, names like Arnold Fruchtenbaum, very good people, others that I could site are doing that and they do that because Ezekiel 39:9 mentions weapons being destroyed for seven years. [Ezekiel 39:9, “Then those who inhabit the cities of Israel will go out and make fires with the weapons and burn them, both shields and bucklers, bows and arrows, war clubs and spears, and for seven years they will make fires of them.”]
Ezekiel 39:12 talks about seven months to bury the dead. [Ezekiel 39:12, “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land.”] If you put the battle, at least chapter 39, somewhere in the tribulation period mathematically you’re going to have weapons burning and burial happening in the millennial kingdom and they say there’s no way that can happen. My response to that is why can’t it happen? Babylon is going to burn throughout that whole thousand years. Do you think burning some weapons for seven years and burying folks for seven months is a problem? Now that would be a problem in the eternal state but not the millennium because the millennium is just sort of a renovation of this earth, it’s not the eternal state yet. So I don’t have any problem putting Ezekiel 38 and 39 in the tribulation period on that basis alone. And yet it’s interesting that that’s the primary objective people give and I’m not sure they are understanding or we are all understanding the differences between the millennium and the eternal state.
You see, the big trend today is just to make it all one big thing at the end, right? The ram, jam and cram method of interpretation; let’s just glob it all together! Well, the Bible doesn’t read that way. If you’re interested in the Bible you are interested in the details and the details of the two chapters, chapter 20 and then chapters 21 and 22 are entirely different.
So Babylon keeps burning for the thousand years. Now people say well, wait a minute pastor, it says Babylon is going to burn forever and ever. Well, it’s interesting, when you look at Revelation 21:8 it talks about people going into the Lake of Fire. [Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”]
The smoke of her torment rises up forever and ever.” [Revelation 14:11, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”] And maybe that’s the way to understand this language “forever and ever.” First Babylon itself burns for a thousand years and then those that orchestrated this horrific system are in the Lake of Fire and the smoke of their torment continues on. Just some things to think about.
Now one of the things that I’ve been trying to steer us away from is the view of, in the Charles Ryrie Study Bible, which is my favorite study Bible, the view as disclosed by the way Dr. John Walvoord who’s probably my favorite theologian, but those folks emphasize and most Christians in our camp think this way, that there’s actually two Babyons. Walvoord, in his Revelation Commentary talks about Babylon ecclesiastical, chapter 17, and then Babylon literal, chapter 18. So chapter 17, when it mentions a city it’s not literal but in chapter 18 when it mentions a city of Babylon it is literal. So chapter 17 is ecclesiastical Babylon, chapter 18 is literal Babylon according to this view. The city is not literal in chapter 17 but the city is literal in chapter 18. The city is destroyed according to this theory halfway through the tribulation period, the harlot anyway. But commercial Babylon isn’t destroyed until the end of the tribulation period.
The emphasis in chapter 17 is religion; the emphasis in chapter 18 is commercial and politics. So what people say is well, there’s obviously two Babylon’s here, one spiritual, one literal. And those are destroyed at different times. But when you look at these hallelujah’s very carefully what you’ll see is heaven is praising God for the destruction of Babylon and in their praise to God they’re drawing information from both chapters. In other words, both chapters are talking about the same city and the same event and the same destruction, if I’m reading this carefully. For example, they’re praising God through the destruction of the harlot, verse 2. The harlot is in chapter 17.
But then these same people are praising God because Babylon is burning forever and ever. You’ll find a description of her burning in chapter 18, verse 8 and verse 18. They’re praising God for the destruction of Babylon because she has exported immorality throughout the world. [Revelation 18:8, “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.” Revelation 18:18, “and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’”]
And yet when you read Revelation 17:2 it talks about Babylon’s immorality, just like it does in Revelation 18:3. [Revelation 17:2, “with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” Revelation 18:3, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”]
I don’t think there are two Babylon’s here; I think it’s a single city, single destruction and I think that becomes evident when you start paying attention to a lot of these details. Remember chapter 16 verse 19, the destruction of Babylon. [Revelation 16:19, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.”] And what the angel said to John, I’m going to show you what just happened in detail. All of that is an expansion of bowl number seven. It’s not going back three and a half years earlier to something that happened way in the past. And you recall when Babylon was first announced, all the way back in chapter 14, you may not remember back that far we’ve been studying Revelation for so long. This is the first introduction to Babylon ever in Revelation 14:8, it says, “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.’”
Notice her title, “Babylon the great.” That’s a title you find in chapter 17:5 and it’s also a title that you find of her in Revelation 18:2. [Revelation 17:5, “and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 18:2, “And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.”]
The announcement of Babylon is drawing from both chapters. Revelation 14:8 says, “[And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great,] she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.” You’ll find that in Scripture in chapter 17 verse 2 and chapter 18, verse 3. [Revelation 17:2, “with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” Revelation 18:3, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”]
You see, whenever Babylon is introduced it’s connected to the seventh bowl and it draws information concerning her destruction from both chapters. When we, as part of this chorus, are praising the Lord in heaven for the destruction of Babylon it’s drawing information from both chapters, therefore I conclude that both chapters are speaking of these same events. Now if you brought your Egghead hat with you today look at this chart. And by the way, don’t celebrate when we finish those three points because we have three more. I’ll do these fast though. But there’s a total of six arguments that are used to drive a wedge between these two chapters.
Number one, people say well, there’s a chapter division there in chapter 18 and as we pointed out the chapter division was not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Number two, people say it was after these things at the beginning of chapter 18 therefore it’s got to be something totally different. Not necessarily, when it says meta tauta was a verb of perception, that’s why I made a point of that earlier, in chapter 19 verse 1, it’s not necessarily talking about something that happened eschatologically later but it’s talking about the next thing John saw. People say well, here’s another angel in chapter 18 verse 1, so it must be a new vision. Not necessarily. I can show you many examples in the Book of Revelation where an angel is inserted into the exact same vision without starting a new vision. People say well, she’s destroyed differently, I mean, she’s destroyed by kings in chapter 17 and she’s destroyed by God in chapter 18. Not necessarily, because who put the desire to destroy Babylon into the hearts of the kings in chapter 17? God did ! In both chapters God is destroying Babylon, it’s just chapter 17 adds a little nuance, God is using human beings for His purposes.
But number five, there’s totally different reactions. The kings hate Babylon in chapter 17 verse 16 and yet in chapter 18 the kings are weeping over Babylon. So obviously two different events. Not necessarily when you understand you’re dealing with two separate sets of kings. The kings in chapter 17 are connected to the antichrist; the kings in chapter 18 are connected to the city of Babylon. That’s why they react different and have different emotions.
Well wait a minute, she’s called a city in chapter 18 but she’s called a woman in chapter 17. Not necessarily when you read the last verse of chapter 17 which says “the woman that you saw is a” what? “a city.” So every single argument that people give related to the fact that these are two different Babylon’s I don’t think holds up under careful scrutiny; I think what you’re dealing with is the destruction of the exact same city at the exact same time. The forces, we’ve gone through this chart way back here many times that unite these chapters as great as anything that drives those chapters apart.
So the praise then continues and now we get some praise from the twenty-four elders. The multitude has praised the Lord because of Babylon’s destruction, but notice the twenty-four elders. Notice, if you will, Revelation 19 and notice if you will verse 4. It says, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” So the multitude praised God, now we get praise from (A) the twenty-four elders and (B) the four living creatures.
Now who are these twenty-four elders? You’ll remember that we carefully worked our way through Revelation 2 and 3, the letters to the seven churches, we looked at how they were described, and when we got to the twenty-four elders in heaven, Revelation 4 and Revelation 5, we noted the fact that my goodness, those twenty-four elders seem to be described very similarly to the way the seven churches were described. So what I think is this: the twenty-four elders is the church that has been taken from the earth to where? Heaven! Before the tribulation period even starts. Now how did the church get up there? She was translated into heaven via the rapture of the church which takes place before the tribulation period even starts. That’s why the twenty-four elders are portrayed in heaven as the events of the great tribulation period are getting ready to start.
And so it’s sort of interesting to look at this and sort of track through this. Now as you go through the Bible you’re going to find many examples of what is called the heavenly scene. You’ll see it in Isaiah 6, what [can’t understand word] folks in heaven are doing. But in every single heavenly scene that you study in the Bible, Isaiah 6, the Book of Ezekiel has a lot of them, but no twenty-four elders. It mentions the four living creatures, and it mentions the great multitude, it mentions myriads of angels, but no twenty-four elders EVER, until you get to Revelation 4 and you see another heavenly scene but you see a totally different group inserted and that’s the twenty-four elders.
Have you ever asked yourself that question, why no twenty-four elders anywhere else until you get to the time of the tribulation period as described in the Book of Revelation and suddenly these twenty-four elders appear and they sound an awful lot like, and they look an awful lot like the seven churches that were described in Revelation 2 and 3. Why is that? Because the translation of the church has occurred and the church is in heaven fulfilling its function of praising the Lord. And one of the things the church is praising the Lord for, amongst these other entities in heaven, is finally Babylon has gotten her due, her destruction has come.
Well, gee, pastor, I wish you could get off this theology stuff and I wish you could preach something more practical and more relevant. Let me ask you just a real simple question; is there anything more relevant than understanding your future in God? This is your future! This is what God has in store for you! This is what He is going to have us doing in the future, in heaven praising the Lord!
Not only are these twenty-four elders praising the Lord but these four living creatures are praising the Lord, I really have a difficult time with the four living creatures, to me the twenty-four elders are easy, but who are these four living creatures? For reasons we’ve said earlier in our study, probably a specialized group of angels, but what is the church and the four living creatures doing? As they’re praising the Lord by falling down? That is a physical reaction. It is a time of worship that is so intense that it even causes a change in one’s bodily position and posture. Wow, that certainly brings out a dimension of worship that we don’t think much about. It says “they worshiped,” the verb here is proseuneo, “they worshipped,” now who are they worshipping? It has a direct object, they are worshipping God. Verse 4, they’re worshipping the one “who sits on the throne.” [Revelation 19:4, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”] Now who would that be? Jesus said in Revelation 3:21, “He who overcomes I will grant him to sit down with me on My throne” that’s future, it hasn’t transpired yet, “as I also have overcome and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Who’s on the throne? The Father! Who’s on the throne with Him? The Son! Before the millennial kingdom comes to the earth and this multitude and these four living creatures and twenty-four elders, they’re so enthralled by the destruction of Babylon that they’re praising the triune God. They’re praising at least two members of the Trinity who are orchestrating these things. And what are they saying? It’s very interesting when you look at verse 4, they’re saying “Amen.” Now there’s another word that needs unpacking, we say it all the time don’t we? Most of us have no idea what it means. Jesus would say this, “Truly, truly I say to you,” that’s in the Greek amen twice, it means verily, verily, or it means it is certain. In other words, it is certain two times amen, amen. That’s what this throng, four living creatures, twenty-four elders are doing and great multitudes doing in the presence of the Lord.
And notice what else they’re saying here,  “Hallelujah!” which means what? Praise the Lord! Exclamation point. Why? Because they just can’t believe that their sons, they’re happy, they’re elated, that this wicked city and system has been brought down through bowl judgment number seven 7. Now we’ve got talking furniture, look at this, Revelation 19:5. Now isn’t it interesting, what did the Lord say as He was coming into Jerusalem and the apostles and the crowd was sort of praising the Lord and the Pharisees said shut these people up, and what did Jesus say? Well, if I shut them up the rocks will start singing. Isn’t it interesting how God is going to get works one way or another. He’s going to get it from a rock or He’s going to get it from a chair, or maybe someone even dumber than both, us, but He’s going to get His praise. And so now this chair is sort of personified as praising the Lord.
Look at Revelation 19:5, “And a voice came from the throne,” now what throne would that be where two members of the trinity are seated? “… saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His” what? “bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” They’re praising the Lord it says. Just like it said that back in verse 1, “A loud voice praising,” praising who? “praising our God.” Not that god or any god, our God, the One that they’re walking in a relationship with! “Praise the Lord you” and it says it a second time, “His bondservants.” It’s the same word, doulos, the common slave. So they’re fighting these bondservants that praise the Lord, “And a voice came from the throne saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants,” look at this now, “you who fear Him.” The smartest thing a human being can ever do with their life is fear the Lord. What I mean by “fear the Lord” is you respect His ways, and His principles and His statutes. The moment you do that you get smart. If you don’t do that you get dumb.
You say well, does the Bible actually teach that? Read Romans 1, humans wouldn’t do it so their own mind became darkened. But those that did do that the brain or the mind is functioning the way God designed it and suddenly the level of intelligence or the level of understanding begins to accelerate dramatically.
Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord,” this is very misquoted, listen to this very carefully, Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Most people misquote this to say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Now the Bible does say that later but not the Book of Proverbs as it opens up because you can’t have wisdom, application, without what? Knowledge, and you’ve got to have something to apply, right? So knowledge is not a last step but it’s always a first step. And how do you get knowledge? How do you get understanding? Proverbs 1:7, you fear, respect, the Lord. All of this talk today by the secularist, progressives, saying we want evolution taught in the schools because we’re on the side of science. They don’t even know what they’re saying.
I spend so much time, you can ask my wife about this, it shows you how smart I am, yelling at the television. [Laughter] And what I yell is “read the book by Henry Morris, entitled Men of Science and Men of God.” If you have fallen for this idea that Christians are somehow anti-scientific read that book, because Henry Morris documents how the historical leaders of every major field of science, every single one of them had in their background a fear of God, or a knowledge of the Bible. Isaac Newton, for example, you know Isaac Newton, most people know him for his scientific advancements, the discovery of the law of gravity.
What most people don’t know is Isaac Newton wrote two commentaries on two books of the Bible, the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. And you should hear the humanist gripe about that one, boy, if he had just really applied himself fulltime to science think what more he could have discovered, not understanding that it was his knowledge of the Bible that gave him an incentive to study science. He believed in God and he believed that God has released into nature certain laws, like the law of gravity, and it was his knowledge of the Creator that gave him an incentive to study science. See, the whole thing today is upside down. The Biblicist is always portrayed as non-scientific and yet the exact opposite is true. That’s why this heavenly throng is saying fear the Lord.
I’ve used this statistic many times, buy you’ll notice what happens to SAT scores in the United States in 1962. It took a real nosedive and you look at that and you say well, what happened in 1962, did a meteor hit the planet or what? NO, that was the year that the Supreme Court, in its infant wisdom (using that language sarcastically) decided it was unconstitutional to have prayer and the Bible in the public schools. Oh, it’s been constitutional for two hundred years but you know what, today it’s unconstitutional. You know what the United States should have done when that ruling was handed down? The United States should have said to the Supreme Court stuff it, we’re going to do the Bible and prayer in public schools anyway because the ruling is illegitimate, because a ruling only has legitimacy if you can find it supported in the text of the United States Constitution. But the Christians of the United States have been told you’ve got to submit to authority no matter what, Romans 13. Even I can tell you examples in the Bible where people, men and women of God did not submit to authority.
And I think if every public school had ignored the ruling and laughed the whole thing off and said make your ruling, now try to enforce it, this whole country would be completely different. But this is what happened, the ruling came out, the Bible is removed, the Bible says “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” and look at what happened to knowledge, it’s just disintegrated. People today think they are the smartest ever and yet we’re probably the dumbest generation that ever lived.
And I don’t mean to get too much on a rant here but these things haven’t helped much; have you ever tried grading papers from college students, where they write their paper and they put lol in the paper, and rof, and all this stuff, because that’s how they communicate on Facebook. That’s language to them that’s normal, so why not put it in a paper? I’m not the oldest person in this room but I was around before all this stuff even came into existence. I think we all collectively were a lot smarter without all of this stuff than we are with it. And as I said, my phone will go off probably.
So they’re praising the LORD and they’re exhorting people to fear the Lord and they’re exhorting people to fear the Lord, and again you’ll see the reference to bondservants and you’ll notice in verse 5, at the end, it talks about bond-servants small and great. [Verse 5 “And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”] You’ll notice that there are small bond-servants and there are great bond-servants, because a lot of times it’s very discouraging in the Christian life and you have some little ministry over on the side that’s certainly not as big as the ministry down the street, and you begin to think that your ministry is less significant. And yet the reality of the situation is God has both kinds of ministries, small and great.
And the only thing God really asks of us in accomplishing what He has given us is not even success, but it’s faithfulness. What does the Bible say? Well done My good and successful servant??? It says “Well done My good and faithful servant.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “In this case moreover it is required of stewards” that’s who we are, stewards, we’re not owners but we’re managers, “it is required of stewards that one is found trustworthy.” Are you trustworthy in what God has given you to do? Rather than get into the comparison team which won’t be the issue in the day of reward, it’ll be faithfulness with what God has given us.
So verse 5 has an awful lot in it, doesn’t it? “And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” And then finally we wrap it up with verse 6, “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,” what does it say here? “Hallelujah!” I think that’s number four, “For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” Now we’re exactly back to where we started with the great multitude. The great multitude starts this paragraph, the great multitude ends this paragraph. And tucked in-between is the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures and the voice of a throne.
You’ll notice it says “like” here three times. “Like the voice of a great multitude,” “like the sound of many waters,” that’s Revelation 1:15 being repeated, “like the sound of mighty peals of thunder,” that’s Revelation 8:5 repeated. Why does he keep saying like, like, like, like, like, like, as, as, as, as, as, as, as? Because of his job description. He was just told to write it down. Aren’t you glad he did that and didn’t get editorially creative? He gave us exactly what God showed him, he’s in his humanity struggling, as you might imagine, but he’s thankful, he’s doing what God said.
I don’t think John would have ever thought that we would be proclaiming this book on a different continent two thousand years later. And yet because he was faithful in something that seemed odd or small look at the botanic truth that God passed down. In the same way whatever God has called you to do, you probably don’t even see what God wants to do through that tiny work you’re doing. And in fact, one of these days in heaven you’re going to look back and you’re going to be dumbfounded at what God did through such a minor effort that you put in, a small task that you were faithful in. And they’re saying “Hallelujah,” verse 6, praise the Lord. [Verse 6, “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the LORD our God, the Almighty, reigns.”]
That’s talking about the “LORD our God,” not that God or the God, our God. They’re in a relationship with Him and they call Him there almighty. That’s who God is; that’s why He deserves praise. He’s omnipotent, He’s all powerful. And then I love how verse 6 ends here because I think this really becomes the point of the book, “Hallelujah, for the LORD our God, the Almighty, reigns.” Isn’t that the whole point of the book? Isn’t this book about how an unlawful usurper gets evicted and his authority over the earth is replaced by the authority of Jesus Christ. We’ve used this slide many times but that’s the purpose of the parallels between the Exodus judgments and the judgments in the Book of Revelation. It sounds so similar. In the Book of Exodus God is bringing Israel out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage and what He’s doing in the Book of Revelation is He’s bringing the whole world out of the satanic bondage that it has been in ever since the fall of man.
And finally His long standing one thousand year kingdom is manifested, about to manifest on the earth. And so rejoice! Because the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our LORD and that’s His Christ. [Revelation 11:15 (NASB) The Seventh Trumpet—Christ’s Reign Foreseen.] “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “ The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord …”]
You say well how does this relate to me? Very simple, you’re a kingdom of priests, Revelation 1:6. And part of the privilege of being a kingdom of priests, Revelation 5:10, is reigning (future) upon the earth. Your destiny in God is to reign under His delegated authority on planet earth. I mean, what a tremendous future. In heaven praising Him for what He did, and is doing, but then it continues where we return to the earth one day functioning under His delegated authority as a kingdom of priests and reigning.
And so I can’t think of really a better or easier way to transition into the gospel than that; I mean, do you want to be part of it? I do! How do I get involved with this? Well, you don’t become an over-comer through your own power; you don’t do it that way. You attach yourself by way of faith to the One who is an overcomer. You receive what He has done for you in your place, which not only eradicates the division between sinful man and a holy God but it also ties you into this glorious future that is yours for the taking simply by responding, by way of faith to what Jesus has done for you on the cross. The gospel is not a twelve step program, it’s a one step program, where you actually receive what He has done by way of faith and that’s the only way to receive a gift from God.
You know, we’re coming up into what we call the holiday season, lots of gifts, lots of presents. How do you receive a gift from someone? You just receive it. And from God you only receive a gift through faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.” Faith is another way of saying trust, where you’re convicted that you’re not going to save yourself but you trust in Him and what He has done for you on the cross and through His resurrection two thousand years ago. And through that nanosecond of faith you receive everything that we talked about, a future that we talked about and presently the forgiveness of your sins.
So as the Spirit of God is convicting men and women of this as I am proclaiming this on this particular Sunday, our exhortation is to respond to that convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit and trust or believe or rely upon what Jesus has done for you. It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle, giving money, filling out a card, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you receive what He has done for you on your behalf. You can do it right now, you can do it even as I am speaking. And as we reconvene the next Lord’s day the celebration of the destruction of Babylon is completed; the very last encumbrance preventing the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth has now been removed; it has now been toppled. And now we move into a very exciting part of the Book of Revelation, where we will see when and how that kingdom will come and what exactly it will look like.
Let us pray. Father, we’re grateful for this ancient book and You have given us so much hope for our world and our future. Make us people of hope as we leave today under your grace. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!