LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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REJOICING OVER BABYLON'S FALL

 

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” Revelation 19:1–5

 

The vision continues after Babylon has been destroyed. We learned in the previous chapter that the destruction of Babylon occurs when God’s people respond to the everlasting gospel. The everlasting gospel produces holiness in the lives of people that repent of sin and accept salvation as offered by God’s grace. Because they are filled with the Holy Spirit they leave the Babylon they have been in to seek the spiritual environment that is truly the body of Christ and in this they renounce and become convinced of all the errors of religious Babylon in all its forms. They have no use for Babylon and they come out of Christ-less religions and all the churches that are apostate Christianity. Babylon religions and churches have no more appeal to them and they in turn work to call others out of Babylon to follow the Lamb of God.

Having seen the destruction of Babylon, John immediately hears the rejoicing of God’s people that have come out. This is a great multitude, a number that cannot be calculated by humans as we saw under the sixth seal in Revelation 7:9 where we saw “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” Please notice in the very next verse that this great multitude “cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Now we see in chapter nineteen those that come out of Babylon during this end-time revival sing the very same song: “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!”

However, those coming out of religious Babylon during the end-time revival add another verse to the song in verse 2, “For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” They are in awe of God’s judgment and the truth they found in the everlasting gospel that defeats sin in their lives. They credit God for giving them the understanding of salvation that is not offered in religious Babylon because Babylon offered them only pretended salvation, religious feelings, and rites and rituals that never changed the quality of their moral being. They see every part of Babylon as corrupt and opposed to the true God and His will for mankind. They understand their coming out of religious Babylon is an act of God’s punishment on Babylon for the persecution of God’s people that were captive in its ranks throughout history and died trying to serve God in those false and fallen religious circumstances. They add a final chorus to their song in verse 3 because of the joy they have in the salvation of the everlasting gospel, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” They are so thankful for being saved out of Babylon. For them, Babylon has been destroyed once for all, “forever and ever.”

The rejoicing over Babylon’s fall produces a response from some other entities we have previously met in our study of the Revelation. In verses 4–5 we find, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen! Alleluia!’ Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!’”

We encountered the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures and the throne in the fourth chapter of Revelation. You will recall that these entities are the first things John saw when the vision of the Revelation was given to him in chapter four. We learned that the throne represents the presence of God as the seat of authority in the kingdom of God and the church built by Jesus and that His church represents God’s authority on earth. The twenty-four elders represent the divinely appointed authority in the kingdom of God on earth. There were 12 sons of Jacob that formed the 12 tribes is Israel under the Old Testament. There were 12 Apostles of Christ under the New Testament. Combined, these represent the 24 elders which we understand together represent the entire scope of the kingdom of God on earth and in human history. In other words, the twenty-four elders represent the redeemed of all ages in human history.

The four living creatures represent certain attributes of the redeemed in their relationship to the glorified Christ under the New Testament. They were full of eyes meaning they possess spiritual discernment they did not have when they were in sin. Because of this discernment they can tell the difference between the power of God and the power of Satan. They had six wings representing the fact that they live under the mercy of Christ and have a passion to bring the lost into that mercy. Each creature has a face that represents a certain aspect of the grace of God in their lives. First, the face of a lion: the grace to reign over sin. Second, the face of a calf: the grace to be a living sacrifice committed to the will of God. Next, the face of a man: the grace to be faithful even in the limitations and weaknesses of our humanity. And finally, the face of an eagle: the grace to endure.

Verse 5 of chapter nineteen tells us a voice came from the throne saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” In chapter four we learned the throne is the presence of God but here the voice is saying “Praise our God.” This cannot be the voice of God. Instead it shows the relationship of the redeemed to Christ—they are in Christ as declared in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” This voice is a response to the praise of the great multitude. Barnes offers this reasonable explanation for the voice and its proximity to the throne:

 

It would seem rather that it was a responsive voice that came from those nearest the throne, calling on all to unite in praising God in view of what was done. The meaning then will be, that all heaven was interested in the triumph of the church, and that one portion of the dwellers there called on the others to unite in offering thanksgiving.

 

The voice coming from the throne speaks to the spiritual unity of God’s people in the end-time revival. It may not be a unity of physical or organic location on the earth; instead, it will be unity of spirit that will exist from place to place around the world as individuals leave their religious Babylons in response to the everlasting gospel. If we could travel around the country and around the world as the end-time revival progresses, we could recognize God’s people by the common experience of salvation wherever we meet them.

The coming out of religious Babylon and the deep-felt rejoicing produce the marriage of the Lamb as we see in verses 6–10.

 

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

 

The marriage of the Lamb here must be understood in its symbolic sense as related to the events of the end-time revival. The common understanding of the marriage of the Lamb among many teachers following the church-historic view of the various elements related to the Church of God Reformation Movement of the late 1880s is that it depicts the restoration of the biblical church under the sixth seal. F. G Smith, the noted Revelation teacher of that movement was not so specific in his book The Revelation Explained. We read the following from the 12th edition of 1943, pages 269–270.

 

The marriage of the Lamb, which was about to take place was a special theme of joy on this occasion. In the Scripture the term marriage is frequently used to represent a special union between Christ and his people. Thus, the early church was represented as being free because of the death of the law, that she “should be MARRIED to another, even to him who is raised from the dead” (Rom. 7:4), So, also, the eternal union of Christ with his people is here describe under the figure of marriage. In one sense they have been married to Christ all through this dispensation; in another sense they have not. The church has had the promise of this eternal union, hence she has been betrothed to Christ; but left in the world, she has been driven into the wilderness, while a corrupt and drunken prostitute and her harlot daughters have been in the public view. Now, however, the judgments of God have descended upon Babylon, and the bride of Christ appears again in all her beauty, “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.” The next great event is her public marriage to Christ when he comes to claim her as his own.

 

As alluded to by Smith, the New Testament refers to the church as the bride of Christ and in the 12th chapter of Revelation the church is pictured as a woman clothed with the sun that is ready to give birth to a child. Obviously, these facts present the church as married to Christ so what is the meaning of this marriage of the Lamb in the context of the end-time revival? From what we have seen from the messages of the bowls of God’s wrath, which is the teaching of the everlasting gospel that produces the end-time revival, a great multitude leaves their various religious Babylons to be nothing more than the church as Jesus builds it.

Verse 6 is a continuation of the rejoicing of God’s people as they respond to the everlasting gospel that has set them free from sin and unites them together in the body of Christ. “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!’” Revelation 1:15 describes the voice of the glorified Christ as the sound of many waters. In Revelation 11:19 there were thunderings as the temple of God was opened in heaven. Again, this is not the voice of God, but rather it is the delivered church echoing the word of God that has set them free from sin and the deceptions of man-made religions.

We are told in verse 7 that His wife, the church, the bride of Christ in this time, has made herself ready and in verse 8 that it was granted that she be clothed in righteousness. Acceptance of the everlasting gospel produced a much longed for cleansing from sin in the lives of God’s people wherever they may be. We were told in Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Clearly these are people that have Romans 6:14 experiences, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

The marriage of the Lamb in the end-time scenario brings back the nature and glory of the church Jesus built at the beginning of the gospel dispensation. This is not a new church; this is not a new denomination or a revitalization of any past movement that may have been called the Church of God; it is not a cohesive movement across the face of the earth but it is to be a consistent movement—consistent with the truth of the everlasting gospel, consistent with practical holiness, and consistent with practical unity where geographical and cyber conditions make it possible.

John, who personally experienced the establishment of the early church, is overwhelmed by the restoration he sees in this end-time revival. 

 

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Verses 9–10)

 

He saw it spread and what he sees here reminds him of what he experienced. The angel that shows him this part of the vision assures John that “these are the true sayings of God.” John falls at the feet of the angel as if to worship him. Here is demonstrated the respect and awe John feels for the ministry of the end-time revival as they face and overcome so much error and falsity even in the name of the Christian church.

Verse 10 reveals the humility of this world-wide ministry. Instead of accepting John’s reverence, the angel tells him not to worship him because he is just a ministry as John and the Apostles were. And the angel closes with the best possible admonition he can give to anyone and especially those that experience the end-time revival: “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Next, John is treated to a revelation of who the leader of the end-time revival will be? Will it be another Martin Luther, or a John Wesley? No; it is someone with far greater influence than these men ever had.