Having been moved from the “wilderness” and brought back into the vibrant throws of heaven, John finds it in full celebration over the destruction of Babylon. Then he witnesses two of our most anticipated events: The wedding of the Lamb, and the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
v.1-4 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power 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! And 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!”
Heaven has rejoiced throughout this book at every juncture where Christ’s return and earthly kingdom is anticipated (Rev.4, 5, 7, 11, 15, 16). “When the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” is heaven’s longing, so it is little wonder that John is witness to a loud and thunderous ocean of angelic adulation, praise, and worship with heaven’s awareness that “the great harlot” Babylon has been uprooted and Christ is coming to consume all sinners from the earth and to establish His righteous kingdom.
The word “Alleluia” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” and means “Praise ye the Lord.” And though it is used four times in this chapter, it’s the only time it is used in the entire New Testament. So seemingly the Holy Spirit has reserved it especially for this triumphant and long awaited moment.
Okay, let’s consider why heaven is rejoicing.
- “Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God!” God’s salvation has gloriously and powerfully come. He has saved His people and delivered them from sin and a fallen world full of abominations, wickedness, and oppression.
- “For true and righteous are His judgments” God has meted out justice. He has judged the great harlot righteously, thereby avenging the saints killed by the corrupt and unrighteous worldly system that her profane religious and commercial schemes have birth and influenced. The slain in Christ had cried, “How long?” (Rev.6:10), and finally His response comes with unbridled fury (see also—Deu.32:42-43).
- “And her smoke rises up forever and ever!” The judgment is permanent. The literal city of Babylon indeed burned with fire (Rev.18:8), but that fire will cease and Babylon will be wiped clean from earthly memory without even a trace. The thought here is that the rebellion spawned in Babylon is eternally ended, and those who took part “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever” (see—Rev.14:11).
v.5-6 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” 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!”
The heavenly Hallelujah chorus continues.
John hears another voice from heaven calling for the servants of God to praise God. It is uncertain whether this call is made by Jesus or an angel, but the response comes resoundingly from a great multitude. The earlier Alleluias appeared only to come from angels joined by the twenty-four elders, whereas this response surely includes every inhabitant of heaven.
Okay, let’s continue the list started in the last passage for the reasons heaven is rejoicing by adding a fourth reason.
“For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”
Though the literal return of Christ and the final fiery destruction He brings upon the ungodly forces remaining on earth doesn’t occur until later (v.11-20), it’s already over for them. God is in control. Christ is coming. Evil men will be abolished, the Kingdom will be established, and He will reign. So it’s a done deal.