Monday, 3 May 2021
And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Revelation 16:7
It should be noted that some manuscripts leave out the words “another from.” Instead, it reads, “And I heard the altar saying.” In other words, the altar is personified, representing those who were martyred as were noted in Revelation 6 –
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” Revelation 6:9-11
If the words “another from” are original, it could be representing the collective voice of the people (which would make less sense because they all speak in Revelation 6), or it could be another revelation of Christ, being the Representative of the altar calling out on their behalf. Whichever is correct, the voice is singular, and it calls out, “Even so, Lord God Almighty.”
It has been seen elsewhere already that the term pantokratór, or “Almighty,” is referring to Jesus. It generally must be inferred from the surrounding context, but this is certain. As such, it does not negate the voice being that of Christ.
As has been seen elsewhere, various aspects of Christ are seen to interact with one another in order for us to understand His various roles. This is not unique to the New Testament, but is seen in the Old as well, such as in Psalm 110:1 where the Lord (Yehovah) is noted as speaking to Himself in this manner. Whoever the voice issues from, it is directed to the all-powerful Lord, and it continues by calling out, “true and righteous are Your judgments.”
This follows in thought from the previous doxology called out by the martyrs seen in Revelation 15 –
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!
4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.” Revelation 15:3, 4
In verse 15:3, the same word is used as here, but there it is inconsistently translated as “just.” For consistency, it should have said, “Righteous and true are your ways.” In this, the connection is made all the more obvious. The call from the altar is that the Lord is righteous and true in all His ways, including in His judgments. This is the repeated cry now in verse 16:7. He has given the offenders their just due by giving them blood to drink because they had shed the blood of the saints and prophets.
Life application: The words here call out the righteous nature of the judgments of God. One tired excuse which is often given for not accepting the Bible is that God is mean. Questions are directed against Him based on that premise – “How could He allow death in the world? What kind of God allows bad things to happen? The God of the Bible is bad because He ordered Israel to kill all of the people in the land of Canaan.” On and on it goes. People find fault with God instead of taking the time to understand who He is.
God is the Creator of time, space, and matter, and therefore He is prior to these things; He is eternal and unchanging. God doesn’t love one person more than another; God is love. God doesn’t hate one group of people more than another; God is just. God doesn’t overlook sin; God is righteous. These qualities don’t increase or decrease – they simply are.
Paul carefully explains these things in the book of Romans, but a good place to grasp them is found in Romans 3. God is holy and sin is unholy. It must be judged; God cannot compromise His own nature. It is a nature that demands the judgment of sin.
So why do some get to heaven and others go to hell? All sin receives its judgment. For some, it is in the substitutionary punishment found in the cross of Jesus, and heaven is the result. However, if judgment isn’t executed in Jesus’ cross, then it must be executed in the individual. There is no other way to satisfy a finite sin against the infinite God. Only Jesus Christ, who is fully Man and fully God, can bridge the gap between the two. When sin is judged in the individual apart from Jesus, the only possible result is hell.
If one can truly grasp this, then the judgments of God are understood to be righteous. God is both just and the Justifier of those who call on Jesus. There is only impartiality – only a completely fair execution of the sentence on sin – death. The calamity that has happened in this temporary, earthly world is not God’s fault, it is ours. He gracefully offers us a choice (faith in Jesus) in order to correct our sin nature. His judgments within the world are perfectly fair because it is we who have set ourselves at enmity with Him.
The good news for the Christian is that because Jesus is sinless, death couldn’t hold Him and this, therefore, translates to the faithful believer as well – eternal life in the presence of God, unstained by sin because of the precious blood of Christ. What a Gift! He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. He is JESUS!
O Heavenly Father, how wondrous are Your ways! How glorious is Your plan! How righteous are Your judgments! We can only shout with a loud and resounding voice of praise at the greatness of what You did for us in the giving of Your own Son. May we never fail to proclaim the greatness of the Lord! Hallelujah and Amen.