Thursday, 24 June 2021
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” Revelation 18:20
With the desolation of Babylon the great complete, words of victory over her come forth, saying, “Rejoice over her, O heaven.”
The meaning is that heaven itself will rejoice over the fall of this city. Thus, there is a stark contrast between the worldly reaction over her to that of the heavenly one. The kings of the earth, the merchants of the earth, and those engaged in sea trade all mourn and lament over her. They had become enriched through their dealings with her, and all they could feel was the sadness of the loss that accompanied her fall because of it.
Heaven, however, is filled with the saints of the ages who had been persecuted and martyred by her. And more, her message has been contrary to the gospel itself, relying on works in order to be saved. But the gospel is of faith and not of works. Therefore, this enemy of the pure gospel is destroyed, and heaven will rejoice over that.
And more, it next says, “and you holy apostles and prophets.” Here, some manuscripts state “and the saints, and the apostles, and the prophets.” The difference in the Greek means either an accidental insertion or an accidental drop of a couple words probably occurred. Either way, by naming the various categories, it is a way of saying that not only will there be a general rejoicing in heaven over her, but that each category will find itself vindicated over her.
Rome’s authority killed prophets, such as John the Baptist. Rome’s authority martyred apostles. And Rome martyred innumerable saints over the centuries as well. The mixing of Christianity with the authority of Rome did not end the persecution, it just made it state-sanctioned persecution of those who rejected Rome’s view of the presentation of the faith. But all of that has come to an end. As the verse says, “for God has avenged you on her!”
The Greek could have several meanings. It literally reads, “for God has judged your judgment on (or out of) her. This could mean the judgment that she is due for the treatment of you. It could mean the judgment which is your due. It could mean the judgment that she has judged concerning you. Or, it could even mean God has taken your cause out of her authority and assumed it as his own.
Whichever is the case, God is the one to ultimately decide. As these words follow after the thought of heaven and its occupants rejoicing over her, it certainly involves the idea that her destruction is fully in accord with the plans and purposes of God, and that His plans and purposes have remembered all of His faithful who were harmed by her.
Life application: Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, Paul says in Romans 12:19, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” After saying this, he then quotes Proverbs 25:21–
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’”
This is the calling of the believer because God would rather have a lost soul turn to Him than for him to continue on in his wayward life and be eternally separated from Him. Once a believer is saved, nothing can separate him from an eternity in God’s presence. Therefore, we are to consider our own lives as less important than others and be willing to expend ourselves even for our enemies.
At the same time though, there is the human weakness of wanting immediate justice for offenses against us. God asks us to put those on hold because all wrongs will be righted, and all offenses will be repaid. Babylon the great, the one who has oppressed God’s people all along, will receive her punishment in full.
At that time, the heavens, the apostles, and the prophets will rejoice because of what will come upon her. The vengeance we are now asked to restrain ourselves from will be realized. God will personally ensure that the destruction this great harlot is set for will come about. All wrongs will be avenged, and all offenses will be repaid.
Until that day, it is our job to share the gospel. As hard as it is to share it with some people, this is what we should always strive to do. Our Lord hung on a cross for man’s reconciliation to God. Therefore, let us speak about this great deed. Let us tell the world about JESUS!
Lord God Almighty, when we face hardships, slanders, and personal offense by those who are enemies of Your truth, it sure is hard to not take revenge on them. In our natural selves, it is just not normal to turn around and offer them a blessing. So, Lord, please stir up our spirits to do as You have asked and give us the strength to follow through with it. Thank You and amen.