The Bible is serious about the last days. Serious in a sober sort of way. Not in a Left Behind kind of way. Not in a John “Blood Moon” Hagee sort of way. Certainly not in a FaceBook meme sort of way. We can learn a whole lot about God, the depths of our own sinfulness, and His holiness if we paid more attention to the Book of Revelation in a serious way. Consider these words:
Revelation 19:1-5 After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!” Then a second time the crowd shouted, “Hallelujah!” The smoke rises from her forever and ever. The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures threw themselves to the ground and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne, saying: “Amen! Hallelujah!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God all you his servants, and all you who fear Him, both the small and the great!”
The Apostle John has just described God’s wrath being poured out onto this wicked world. The capitol city of wickeness and evil, personified by the figure of the lecherous and decandent “woman” (cf. Rev 17:4ff), has been destroyed. In the last days, this world will be awash in a sea of wickedness and excess which boggles the mind.
Satan will have his brief period of autonomy (“for he knows that he only has a little time,” Rev 12:12). He will establish his own kingdom on the earth, patterned after the Lord’s, but every bit as evil as Yahweh’s is holy. Satan will install his own man on the throne, just as God will do with Christ. But, this man will be everything Christ is not. He will be the anti-Christ.
This shadow kingdom of doom and debauchery will not last long. God will destroy it.
Revelation 16:17-19 Finally the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying: “It is done!” Then there were flashes of lightning, roaring, and crashes of thunder, and there was a tremendous earthquake – an earthquake unequaled since humanity has been on the earth, so tremendous was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the nations collapsed. So Babylon the great was remembered before God, and was given the cup filled with the wine made of God’s furious wrath.
Immediately after this event in chronology, we have our small little passage from Revelation 19. What is happening here? We hear a great chorus in heaven. It could be either angels or redeemed men and women. We don’t know. But, we do know what they’re saying.
They’re praising God. That’s what “Hellelujah” means. Is it strange that they’re praising God as thousands upon thousands of people lie dead on earth? Why is this happening? Why did God give John this vision, and move him to record it for us?
They praise God because salvation, honor and power belongs to Him:
- The right to bestow salvation.
- The right to author salvation.
- To right to grant salvation to whomever He wishes.
- Honor is due to him
- Honor is demanded by Him
- Honor will be granted to Him and to His Son (cf. Phil 2:10-11)
- Power belongs to Him
- This world is run by Him, governed by Him, controlled by Him, and His laws and commandments are the rule of the land.
Why do they praise God? There are three reasons, and they’re all clearly set out in the Greek text by the word we translate “because” (ὅτι) and by one conjunction:
- because His judgments are true and righteous. God will judge this world, and He’ll be right to do it. People will die. Women will die. Men will die. Cute kittens will die. FaceBook will die. Even Waldo will be found out. Have you ever considered why this kind of devestation and destruction is worthy of praise? Does this disgust you? Does it go against the image you have of God, and His beloved Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah? It shouldn’t. Read Psalm 2 or Psalm 110. Think about it.
- because God has judged Satan’s world system, culture and false religion of rebellion, selfishness, wickedness and dark debauchery – personified by this “great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality,” (Rev 19:2). Every single person who will die on this terrible day will hate God, hate His Messiah, and love sin. They’ll deserve to die. God’s judgments are true because they’ll be poured out upon those who hate Him – their creator and sustainer.
- and because God is avenging His adopted children, whose blood has been poured out by this world’s wicked hands. God will avenge His own.
The praise team isn’t done quite yet. Another “Hallelujah” issues from above. Now we have a description; “the smoke rises from her forever and ever.” Smoke from what? From the city which has been destroyed. From the bodies of those who have been slain. From the ruined ashes of Satan’s pitiful rebellion. And the chorus in heaven is praising God for this. Consider that the next time you’re tempted to reduce God to a nice, senile, doddering old grandfather in the sky. His love is never at the expense of His holiness.
To use a colloquial term, things are “gonna get real” one day. And God’s people and His angels (“the twenty-four elders and four living creatures”) will praise and worship Him for it.
A voice calls out from the throne. Is Yahweh’s voice? Probably not (“our”), but it’s a voice we ought to listen to. The voice commands praise to God. From whom? From His slaves and those who fear Him, whether great or small.
God is holy. God is serious about His holiness. This world is His creation. It’s governed by His laws, His commandments, His power and by His rules. God is longsuffering, but that patience has a limit. If a parent never exercises discipline, then he isn’t a parent – he’s a loser. God isn’t a loser. Discipline is coming. Judgment is coming. That judgment will be worthy of praise, because it will be right and true.
God is bigger than we often give Him credit for. This little passage demonstrates that. Goodbye, cruel world. Judgment Day is coming, and it won’t be at the hands of Arnold or the T-1000. It will be worse, and it will be just. Praise God.