Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Revelation 18-19

October 24th, 2010 by Vic

“THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS”

Revelation 18-19

October 24, 2010

In chapter 18 a messenger from heaven encourages the saints to separate themselves from the world’s economy.  In 19:1-6 the saints are singing the Hallelujah Chorus because God is faithful and just.  The Hallelujah Chorus is a celebration of the 2nd coming.

At the time of John’s writing, Rome is at the height of her glory.  Her power is unchallenged.  She has an opulent lifestyle.  But John sees her as already fallen.  For those with eyes to see, all wickedness is being destroyed.  Try seeing the world as God sees the world.

18:1   “After these things” refers to the order of the visions from John’s viewpoint.  If this is an angel, he is reflecting the glory of God.  Some think it is Jesus.

18:2   The strong voice confirms the authoritative nature of his announcement.  If you are being attracted by Babylon’s consumer mentality, listen up!  Judgment is so certain that John writes in past tense as if it has already happened.  Babylon is described as a ghost town where night birds live.  The fall of historic Babylon in the OT is a pattern used to describe the fall of the much more influential and powerful economic Babylonian system of today.

18:3   She has seduced nations and rulers to accept her religious and idolatrous demands.  She threatened sanctions if they did not cooperate with her demands.

All who were part of the world’s system enjoyed the luxury, entertainment, and prosperity.  Her exploitation and depletion of natural resources is idolatrous and immoral.

18:4   Another voice from heaven warns the children of God to come out of her.  Keep your defenses up.  Come out and touch no unclean thing (Is 52:11; Jer 51:45).  Flee from evil and pursue good.  Don’t be unequally yoked with the things of this world, but be separate, living by a different standard (2Cor 6:14).  Have nothing to do with the occult, immorality, sensuality, consumerism, and a lust for riches.  Don’t measure your value by the world’s standard.  Compromise and tolerance with the world is dangerous.  Compromise with the world’s values is fatal.  I don’t enjoy pain and suffering but John reminds us that we must be willing to suffer.

We are called to be separate now.  We are not called to withdraw, but to be salt and light.  We are called to withdraw from temptations to compromise.  We are not ‘consumers’ that support the gross national product.  We are children of the King.  (Rom 12:1-3)

18:5   Her sins are piled up just like Jeremiah said that Babylon’s sin in the OT (Jer. 51) had reached heaven.  God’s righteous judgment is just.

18:6   God is the dispenser of justice.  Punishment is commensurate with the crime.  The word ‘double’ in some translations is not quite accurate.  In the OT it means ‘produce a duplicate’, repeat, twin, or matching equivalent.  God’s judgment matches the deeds.

18:7   Her sin is pride and self-sufficiency.  Babylon excels in confidence and self-idolatry.  She sees herself as the mother of all nations and the world as her family.  Rome claimed eternal glory and sovereignty.  God says, “Surprise!”

18:8   The great religious, political and economic arrogance will be destroyed in one day (Is 47:9).  Do you have eyes to see this world from heaven’s point of view?  Do you see the world being destroyed?  Do you have a passion to tell your neighbor about Jesus before they perish?

18:9‑20  Babylon is destroyed quickly and the merchants of the earth will weep.  All life as they knew it is gone.  The gap between rich and poor is suddenly narrowed.  The wicked weep over economic loss while the faithful rejoice.

18:9   The rulers of all nations, the trading partners who have been part of this world system will weep because they have lost their lover.  The kings of the earth stand at a distance and cry, woe, woe, woe.  In John’s day there was a close connection between idolatry (religion) and economic prosperity.  Allegiance to Caesar and trade union gods, was considered patriotic.

18:10   They are amazed that the system collapsed so quickly.  They are now afraid of sharing in her suffering.  It has similarities to the fall of Tyre in Ezekiel 26-27 and the Twin Towers.

These wicked kings were actually used by God to cause Babylon’s fall, but now they are beginning to regret it.  They fear their own economic loss.

18:11   In addition to the kings’ mourning, the merchants also weep over Babylon.  No one buys their products anymore.  Babylon was everyone’s primary consumer.

18:12-13   Like Ezekiel 27 this is a list of luxury products in which Rome overindulged.  The letters John wrote to the churches warned them of compromising with the world’s economy.

18:14   The second phrase is alliterative and suggests that the false glitter and glory of Babylon’s wealth will be taken away and replaced by the genuine divine glory and brightness reflected in God’s faithful children.

18:15  This may suggest a nuclear explosion because there is no looting.  Everyone stood at a safe distance to mourn.  They do not mourn the city, but their own loss.

18:16   The merchants cry is the same as the kings’.  The economy is personified as a woman again.  The 6 pieces of adornment here are from Ezekiel 28:13.

The imagery from the OT prophets suggests that God’s true people, the pure bride, are contrasted not merely with the economic-religious world of paganism, the whore, but also with those from the Christian community who have compromised or prostituted themselves and become part of the world’s ways or the synagogue of Satan mentioned in the letters to the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia.

18:17-19   The shipping industry was like our information technology or satellite network today.  It was the foundation of all trade.  The sea captains and sailors mourn like the merchants.  The economy of all nations implodes.  There will be no more government jobs.

18:20   Just as the faithful were commanded in 12:12 to rejoice because of Christ’s victory over Satan at the cross and the grave, so here they are commanded to rejoice because of Christ’s victory over the whole Satanic system.

Rejoice because Babylon is judged and that judgment has been just.  The rejoicing does not come from a selfish spirit of revenge but out of a fulfilled hope in God that has been validated.

18:21‑24  The 3rd mighty angel takes a great rock like a millstone and throws it in the sea and says that Babylon is now like that stone, gone forever (21).  All pleasure is gone.  All music is gone (v.22).  Silence is loud.  All work is useless.  All food is gone.  All good deeds are abandoned (v.23).  All love is gone.  Light is gone.  The things that are seen are temporal.

The millstone describes the judgment of Babylon now in a way that compares her fall to the fall of Tyre in Ezekiel 26:12, the fall of OT Babylon in Jeremiah 51:63, and the defeat of Egypt in the Red Sea (Nehemiah 9:11).

Matthew 18:6 also has similar language, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  The ‘woes’ in Matthew are directed against the arrogant in the church who deceive.

Just as the means of making a comfortable living was removed from God’s people through economic and political persecution in the past, Babylon’s economic luxury, prosperous lifestyle, and excesses are taken away.  The world’s joy was based on the things that are now gone.

The angel gives 3 reasons (23b-24) that Babylon has been ‘cast down’.  First, because her merchants were the great ones of the earth (Is 23:8) who gave glory to themselves and not to God.  Secondly, she influenced nations to worship idols through sorcery, which included immorality and idolatry.  The third reason is because she persecuted the community of the faithful.  Blood and death are figures of speech for the entire spectrum of persecution.

Chapter 19 is the Hallelujah chorus of the NT.  In contrast to the wails of earth, we sing the songs of heaven.  ‘Hallel’ means praise.  ‘u’ means you.  ‘ya’ means Lord.  ‘Praise you the Lord.’  Hallelujah is said only 4 times in the whole N.T.  Here in verses 1,3,4,6.  It is found 22 times in the Psalms and a couple of those Psalms refer to the final judgment of sinners.

In 18:20 the children of God were commanded to rejoice.  Now they begin to sing.  They sing 3 attributes of God.  God’s salvation should awaken our gratitude.  God’s glory should awaken our reverence.  God’s power should awaken our trust.  Hallelujah!

Salvation means healing, wholeness, liberation, room to move, rescue from a narrow place, deliverance from oppression, forgiveness.  We can sing hallelujah.  Why?  19:2 gives us 3 reasons.  This is the answer to the cry of 6:10.

1. God is true (valid) and just (fair).

2. God has destroyed the world system.  He is moral.

3. God has punished all injustice.

19:3   We continue the praise and sing it again, “Hallelujah”.  We have only an eternal monument of ashes and smoke to remind us of what the world used to be.

19:4   We have seen the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures before in Revelation.  They represent all God’s people and all God’s creation.  We started our praise with a great choir, and then a brief encore.  Now we hear the 28-voice ensemble sing, “Amen.  Hallelujah!”  Amen means, ‘so be it’ ‘I agree’.  Our God has all power, Amen.  Salvation and glory, Amen.  His judgments are true, Amen.  The harlot is destroyed, Amen.  Judgment is complete, Amen.  Forever and Forever, Amen!  (Ps 106:48)

19:5‑6   All you servants of the Lord give praise.  Let all that hath breath, praise the Lord.

The saved of all time, all of God’s children now sing with one voice.  They sound like the strength of many waters with the impact and majesty.  All instruments are now in tune with the master key.  All voices are on perfect pitch.  The sound is as one voice.  The sound grows, and the sound is beautiful in its intensity.  It is pure music with no discord.  There is resonance in the universe.  The harmonics resound from the edges of the sky.

The word Almighty is used 10 times in the N.T.  9 of those are in this book of Revelation.  It is a compound word in Greek, panto+krator.  Literally it means the all‑holder, the all‑controller.  God is in control.  He never has to leave his throne to win any battles.  He is the Almighty even sitting down.  He’s got the whole world in His hands.  And wise men sing praise.

19:7‑9   The bond of marriage is a symbol of our relationship to God.  In biblical times, the engaged couple was considered married and remained loyal to each other, but lived apart until the wedding day.  They had made a commitment to each other to be faithful.  On the wedding day the wedding party assembled at the house of the groom.  The wedding procession went to the house of the bride.  The bride and her attendants were escorted to the house of the groom.  The marriage feast began.  It was a festive occasion, with dancing and singing.  John says the church is both the bride and the guests.  We have made commitments to be faithful.

Notice in verse 8 that the appropriate fine linen, bright and clean for the feast has been given to the church to clothe herself.  It is the ability to do good deeds that God has given us.  This is in contrast to the harlot of chapter 17.  The dowry price for our hand has been paid.

Theological tension appears between the bride preparing herself (7) and the bride being given her garments (8).  (See Ephesians 2:10)  The churches were warned (3:4-5, 18) not to soil their garments.  A good testimony required a white robe.

19:9 is the 4th of 7 beatitudes that promise a blessing to the children of God.  The supper intensifies the idea of intimate communion with God.

19:10   John is so overcome that he bows to worship the angel and is reminded that only God is to be worshipped.

This may warn us how easy it is to fall into idolatry.  We are not to worship angels, Bibles, crosses, churches, pastors, memories, or any other idol.  It is very dangerous to receive the honor and praises of men.

19:11   This is the real white horse.  The rider is faithful and true.  The war He wages is not a literal battlefield, but a legal judgment. The weapon of this war is the Word of truth.

19:12-13   His eyes see all.  His real nature and name are incomprehensible.  In the OT to know a name means to have control over the one named.  So the confidential name means that Christ is absolutely sovereign over our understanding of His character.  His name is given to us in 19:13 &16.  Luke 10:22 says, “no one knows who the Son is except the Father… reveals.”

19:14   Christ’s followers take part in the judgment.  Note the alternating use of past, present, and future tenses in vv 14-16.  Prophets write like this.

19:15   His only weapon is love or His word.  Isaiah 49:2 identifies the servant of Israel with a sword proceeding from his mouth.  Isaiah 11:4 speaks of the rod of His mouth that executes judgment (2 Thes 2:8).  Isaiah 63 compares the horseman’s victory to trampling grapes in a winepress.  The wicked are ripe for harvest.

19:16   The name by which the world will know Him is King of kings and Lord of lords.  The thigh was the location of the sword and putting a notary seal on your oath.  This title was used in Daniel 4 to demonstrate God’s sovereignty over Nebuchadnezzar when he became a beast.

19:17‑18   The angel in 18:1 introduced the fall of Babylon.  The angel here introduces the fall of the beast and false prophet.  The satanic trinity is destroyed.  The street sweepers of the air are invited to get ready for the supper of the false bride.  Defeat is certain.

19:19   John sees a vision of the judgment itself.  God has gathered all nations together for the final war of history.  “The” battle is mentioned in Rev 11:7, 16:14, 19:19, 20:8, Daniel 7:21, Zech 14:2, and Psalm 2.  We already know who wins.

19:20   The great conflict of the ages will be quiet and swift.  The kings of this world that Satan gathers together will be totally impotent.  They will be destroyed by the Word.  First the beast and the false prophet are captured and destroyed (20) then their followers are executed (21).

19:21   The sword represents a decree of death.  The final judgment is executed by the simple words, “depart from me, accursed ones…” (Matt 13:40-42).

As He fed the multitudes, turned the water into wine, He invites all now to come and dine.  There is now and ever will be complete satisfaction in Jesus.  He is the bread of Life.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the lake of fire.

John is writing to the churches.  He is calling us to repent of our compromising with the world’s ways.  He is calling us to repent of our greed, selfishness, and consumer ethics.

The world likes a complacent, compromising, loving religion.  The world is comfortable with the symbols of the cross, the fish, the political prayer, the Christian bookstore, the church on the corner, the meek picture of Jesus, the miracles of healing as long as it benefits them.  But when we follow in the steps of Jesus there is no rationalization or compromise.  We live holy and righteous in all our ways.  If you follow Jesus there is no reliance on luxury and wealth, no desire to avoid suffering, no exploitation of life, no pride, no self-sufficiency, no complacency, no idolatry, no evil of any kind.  Come out and be separate.

In 1741, Charles Jenners wrote a libretto entitled A Sacred Oratorio and sent excerpts to George Frederick Handel.  At the time, Handel was going through a severe depression.  He did not want to read this manuscript, but as he leafed through, his eyes caught the words, “He was despised and rejected of men.  He looked for someone to have pity on Him, but there was no man; neither found He any to comfort Him.”

At that time Handel was 57 years old.  His father died when he was 12.  He trained in law to please his father’s wishes but earned a living as church organist.  At the age of 20 he wrote his first successful opera.  As a composer he had his ups and downs.  Some compositions were well received and paid well, but at this point in his life, he was not popular.  He was depressed.

As he read this manuscript from his friend, he began to identify with the Scripture that said, “He trusted God.  God did not leave His soul in hell.  He will give you rest.”  The words began to throb within his breast.  “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…I know that my Redeemer lives, Hallelujah!”

Handel took up a pen, started writing, and for 24 days slept little, ate little, but rejoiced much.  His servant saw food never touched or half-eaten.  He saw tears stain the page and blur the ink.  He heard the harpsichord playing and Handel shouting.  He saw Handel wave his arms and frequently praise the Lord.  Handel later said, “I think I saw all heaven before me, and the great God Himself.”

In one early performance of the cantata in London, as the Hallelujah Chorus was being sung, the king was so moved that he rose to his feet.  The audience followed his example and remained standing until the end, a practice that has continued to this day.

Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of Lords.  Hallelujah!

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