The celebration of heaven over the “wedding” of the “Lamb” follows the destruction of “Babylon, the Great Harlot” – Revelation 19:1-10.
Next, Revelation presents the celebration of “heaven” over the demise of the “Great City, Babylon.” A “great voice” of many people rings out in praise to God because He judged the “Great Harlot” that had seduced the “nations” and persecuted the “saints,” the “servants” of God. It is also the hour for the “marriage” of the “Lamb” to his bride, “New Jerusalem.”
The celebrants are described as the “voice of a great multitude in heaven,” which is a verbal link to the “seventh trumpet” when “there followed great voices in heaven” in praise of God because His kingdom had triumphed in the world. The reference to the “great multitude” recalls the “innumerable multitude” of men and women “from every nation” that John saw “standing” before the “Lamb” and the “throne.” The downfall of end-time “Babylon” is above all their victory.
- (Revelation 19:1-4) – “And after these things I heard a great voice of many people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power to the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments, for he has judged the great harlot that corrupted the earth with her fornication, and has avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again, they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen, Alleluia!”
“For true and righteous are his judgments.” The same characteristics were attributed to the judgments of God in the “seven bowls of wrath.” The verbal parallel is deliberate and links the victory over “Babylon” to the “seven bowls that completed the wrath of God” – (Revelation 15:3, 16:5-7).
She “corrupted the earth with her fornication.” The language parallels the earlier condemnation of “Jezebel” and her deceitful activities at Thyatira that deceived many members of the congregation. “Babylon” was at work even in the marginalized “churches of Asia” – (Revelation 2:20).
“And her smoke ascended forever and ever.” This alludes to the prophecy from Isaiah when Edom, representing the “nations of the earth,” was condemned by Yahweh to become “burning pitch.” It also recalls the punishment pronounced by an angel on all men who took the “mark of the beast,” the “smoke of whose torment” would rise forever, for her fate is the same as theirs – The “lake of fire” – (Isaiah 34:1-10, Revelation 14:9-11).
Twice in the passage, the “saints” are called “servants” or douloi. Elsewhere in Revelation, those who belong to Jesus are called the “servants” of God (e.g., Revelation 1:1, 2:20, 7:3).
- (Revelation 19:5-9) – “And a voice from the throne came forth, saying: Give praise to our God, all His servants, you that revere him, the small and the great. And I heard as a voice of a great multitude, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of mighty thunders, saying: Hallelujah! Because the Lord our God, the Almighty, has become king. Let us rejoice and exult, and give glory to him, because the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready; and it has been given to her that she should be arrayed in fine linen, bright, pure, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he says to me: Write! Blessed are they who have been summoned to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he says to me: These words are true words of God.”
The “voice from the throne” was heard previously when the “seventh bowl” was emptied on “Babylon.” At that moment, the “great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne” declared the completion of the “wrath of God.” The same “voice” now praises God for the destruction of end-time “Babylon” – (Revelation 16:17-21).
“A voice of many waters.” Previously, the “Harlot” was described as “sitting on waters,” which represented the “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” dominated by her. In the book’s first vision, Jesus was the one “like a son of man” whose voice was like the “voice of many waters,” and as the “slain Lamb” he promised to lead the “innumerable multitude” of men from “nation, tribe, people and tongue” to the “fountains of the waters of life.” The actualization of this promise is implicit in the comparison of the great multitude’s praise to that of a “voice of many waters.” Moreover, “many” points to an amount more than the “waters” over which “Babylon” reigned. The victory of the “Lamb” will far exceed the destruction and deceit wrought by the “Great City” – (Revelation 1:15, 7:17, 17:1, 15).
“God the Almighty has become king.” This statement links this celebration to the conclusion of the “seventh trumpet” when “great voices in heaven” declared the victory of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of the earth – (Revelation 11:15-19).
“The marriage of the Lamb is come.” Behind this image are passages from Isaiah that pictured Zion as the bride of Yahweh. Later, John will see “New Jerusalem” descending from heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Thus, in chapter 19, the narrative has reached the same point in time as John’s vision of the descent of “New Jerusalem,” or at least, it anticipates it – (Isaiah 62:1-5, Isaiah 66:1-5). (Revelation 21:2).
The “wife” is a female image that contrasts the “holy city, New Jerusalem” to “Babylon, the Great City” and harlot. The Lamb’s “wife” is arrayed in “fine linen, bright, pure, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints,” but the “Great Harlot” was adorned with “purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, had a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.” The contrast between the two “cities” is quite stark – (Revelation 17:4).
The description of the “wife of the Lamb” parallels the promises made to overcomers in the letters to the “churches of Asia,” and it also recalls the “robes” worn by the members of the “innumerable multitude.” All who follow the “Lamb wherever he goes” will be “arrayed in white robes” – (Revelation 3:5, 3:18, 7:9-14).
- (Revelation 19:10) – “And I fell down at his feet to do him homage. And he says to me: Do it not! I am a fellow-servant of you and of your brethren who have the witness of Jesus. Give homage to God. For the witness of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy.”
John reacted to the overwhelming scene by rendering homage to the interpreting angel. The Greek verb rendered “do homage” does not necessarily describe the same act as worship given to a deity, and it may refer simply to rendering homage to a person of higher rank. But the controversy in Revelation is over whether one “renders homage” to the “Dragon” and his “beast,” or to God and his “Lamb,” and there is no room for compromise. Allegiance belongs only to God and Jesus. And the same Greek verb is used elsewhere for “rendering homage” to the “Beast” or to its “image” – (Revelation 13:4-15).
“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This repeats the theme found elsewhere in the book. To bear the “testimony of Jesus” is to risk all by following in his footsteps, for in his sacrificial death, he became the ultimate “faithful witness.” And Revelation equates the “testimony of Jesus” with “prophecy,” and it frequently includes martyrdom – (Revelation 1:9, 6:9, 11:7, 12:11, 12:17, 20:4).
“Blessed are they who are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb! These words are the true words of God.” This declaration parallels the promised blessedness for everyone who finds his or her name “written in the Lamb’s book of life.”