Praise Jah for His Judgments!
1. What words does John hear “as a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven”?
BABYLON THE GREAT is no more! This is truly joyous news. No wonder John hears happy exclamations of praise in heaven! “After these things I heard what was as a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven. They said: ‘Hallelujah!a The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.’ And right away for the second time they said: ‘Hallelujah!b And the smoke from her goes on ascending forever and ever.’”—Revelation 19:1-3.
2. (a) What does the word “Hallelujah” mean, and what does John’s hearing it twice at this point demonstrate? (b) Who receives the glory for destroying Babylon the Great? Explain.
2 Hallelujah indeed! The word means “Praise Jah, you people,” “Jah” being the shortened form of the divine name, Jehovah. We are here reminded of the exhortation of the psalmist: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah. Praise Jah, you people!” (Psalm 150:6) John’s hearing the exultant heavenly chorus sing “Hallelujah!” twice at this point in Revelation demonstrates the continuity of the divine revelation of truth. The God of the Christian Greek Scriptures is the same as the God of the earlier Hebrew Scriptures, and Jehovah is his name. The God that caused the fall of ancient Babylon has now judged and destroyed Babylon the Great. Ascribe to him all glory for that feat! The power that maneuvered her downfall belongs to him rather than to the nations that he used as instruments in desolating her. To Jehovah alone we must attribute salvation.—Isaiah 12:2; Revelation 4:11; 7:10, 12.
3. Why has the great harlot been so deserving of her judgment?
3 Why has the great harlot been so deserving of this judgment? According to the law that Jehovah gave to Noah—and through him to all mankind—the wanton shedding of blood calls for the death sentence. This was stated again in God’s Law to Israel. (Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:20, 21) Moreover, under that Mosaic Law both physical and spiritual adultery merited death. (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 13:1-5) For thousands of years, Babylon the Great has been bloodguilty, and she is a gross fornicatrix. For example, the policy of the Roman Catholic Church of forbidding her priests to marry has resulted in gross immorality on the part of many of them, not a few of these today contracting AIDS. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 4:1-3) But her major sins, ‘massing together clear up to heaven,’ are her shocking acts of spiritual fornication—this latter in teaching falsehoods and allying herself with corrupt politicians. (Revelation 18:5) Since her punishment has finally overtaken her, the heavenly multitude now echoes a second Hallelujah.
4. What is symbolized by the fact that the smoke from Babylon the Great “goes on ascending forever and ever”?
4 Babylon the Great has been set afire like a conquered city, and the smoke from her “goes on ascending forever and ever.” When a literal city is burned by conquering armies, the smoke keeps ascending as long as the ashes are hot. Anyone who tries to rebuild it while it is still smoking will simply get burned by the smoldering ruins. Since the smoke from Babylon the Great will rise “forever and ever” in token of the finality of her judgment, no one will ever be able to restore that iniquitous city. False religion is gone forever. Hallelujah, indeed!—Compare Isaiah 34:5, 9, 10.
5. (a) What do the 24 elders and the four living creatures do and say? (b) Why is the Hallelujah refrain far more melodious than Hallelujah choruses sung in Christendom’s churches?
5 In an earlier vision, John saw around the throne four living creatures, together with the 24 elders that picture the Kingdom heirs in their glorious heavenly position. (Revelation 4:8-11) Now he sees them again as they thunder forth a third Hallelujah over the destruction of Babylon the Great: “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God seated upon the throne, and said: ‘Amen! Hallelujah!’”c (Revelation 19:4) This grand Hallelujah chorus is in addition, then, to the “new song” of praise to the Lamb. (Revelation 5:8, 9) They sing now the magnificent victory refrain, ascribing all glory to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah because of his decisive victory over the great harlot, Babylon the Great. These Hallelujahs peal forth far more melodiously than any Hallelujah choruses sung in Christendom’s churches, where Jehovah, or Jah, has been dishonored and despised. Such hypocritical singing that reproaches Jehovah’s name is now silenced forever!
6. Whose “voice” is heard, what does it urge, and who share in the response?
6 It was in 1918 that Jehovah began rewarding ‘those fearing his name, the small and the great’—the first of these being the anointed Christians who had died faithful, whom he resurrected and stationed in the heavenly ranks of the 24 elders. (Revelation 11:18) Others join with these in singing the Hallelujahs, for John reports: “Also, a voice issued forth from the throne and said: ‘Be praising our God, all you his slaves, who fear him, the small ones and the great.’” (Revelation 19:5) This is the “voice” of Jehovah’s Mouthpiece, his own Son, Jesus Christ, who stands “in the midst of the throne.” (Revelation 5:6) Not only in heaven but also here on earth, “all you his slaves” share in the singing, with the anointed John class taking the lead on earth. How exultantly these share in obeying the command: “Be praising our God”!
7. After Babylon the Great is destroyed, who will be praising Jehovah?
7 Yes, those of the great crowd are also numbered among these slaves. Since 1935 these have been coming out of Babylon the Great and have experienced the fulfillment of God’s promise: “He will bless those fearing Jehovah, the small ones as well as the great ones.” (Psalm 115:13) When harlotlike Babylon is destroyed, millions of them will join in “praising our God”—along with the John class and all the heavenly host. Later, those resurrected on earth, whether previously prominent or not, will no doubt sing further Hallelujahs on learning that Babylon the Great is gone forever. (Revelation 20:12, 15) All praise to Jehovah for his resounding victory over the age-old harlot!
8. What incentive should the heavenly choruses of praise witnessed by John give us now, before Babylon the Great is destroyed?
8 What an incentive all of this gives us to share fully in God’s work for today! May all of Jah’s servants devote themselves heart and soul to declaring God’s judgments, together with the grand Kingdom hope, now, before Babylon the Great is unseated and destroyed.—Isaiah 61:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
‘Hallelujah—Jehovah Is King!’
9. Why is the last Hallelujah such a full, rich sound?
9 There are further reasons for rejoicing, as John goes on to tell us: “And I heard what was as a voice of a great crowd and as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders. They said: ‘Hallelujah,d because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.’” (Revelation 19:6) This last Hallelujah is the one that makes the proclamation foursquare, or symmetrical. It is a mighty celestial sound, more magnificent than any human choir, more majestic than any earthly waterfall, and more fear-inspiring than any terrestrial thunderstorm. The myriads of heavenly voices celebrate the fact that “Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.”
10. In what sense can it be said that Jehovah begins to rule as king after Babylon the Great’s devastation?
10 How is it, though, that Jehovah begins to rule? Millenniums have passed since the psalmist declared: “God is my King from long ago.” (Psalm 74:12) Jehovah’s kingship was ancient even then, so how can the universal chorus sing that “Jehovah . . . has begun to rule as king”? In that when Babylon the Great is destroyed, Jehovah will no longer have that presumptuous rival to detract from obedience to him as the Universal Sovereign. No longer will false religion incite earth’s rulers to oppose him. When ancient Babylon fell from world dominance, Zion heard the victorious proclamation: “Your God has become king!” (Isaiah 52:7) After the Kingdom’s birth in 1914, the 24 elders proclaimed: “We thank you, Jehovah God . . . because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.” (Revelation 11:17) Now, after the devastation of Babylon the Great, the cry is again uttered: “Jehovah . . . has begun to rule as king.” No man-made god remains to contest the sovereignty of the true God, Jehovah!
The Lamb’s Marriage Is at Hand!
11, 12. (a) How did ancient Jerusalem address ancient Babylon, setting what pattern with regard to New Jerusalem and Babylon the Great? (b) With the victory over Babylon the Great, what do the heavenly throngs sing and announce?
11 “You woman enemy of mine”! That is how Jerusalem, the location of Jehovah’s temple of worship, addressed idolatrous Babylon. (Micah 7:8) Likewise, “the holy city, New Jerusalem,” made up of the bride of 144,000 members, has had every reason to address Babylon the Great as her enemy. (Revelation 21:2) But at last the great harlot has suffered adversity, calamity, and ruin. Her spiritistic practices and astrologers have been unable to save her. (Compare Isaiah 47:1, 11-13.) A major victory, indeed, for true worship!
12 With the disgusting harlot, Babylon the Great, gone forever, attention can now be focused on the virgin-pure bride of the Lamb! Hence, the heavenly throngs sing exultantly in praise of Jehovah: “Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself. Yes, it has been granted to her to be arrayed in bright, clean, fine linen, for the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones.”—Revelation 19:7, 8.
13. What preparation for the marriage of the Lamb has taken place down through the centuries?
13 Down through the centuries, Jesus has made loving preparation for this celestial marriage. (Matthew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 11:2) He has been cleansing the 144,000 of spiritual Israel so that “he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) With a view to attaining to “the prize of the upward call of God,” each anointed Christian has had to strip off the old personality with its practices, put on the new Christian personality, and perform righteous acts “whole-souled as to Jehovah.”—Philippians 3:8, 13, 14; Colossians 3:9, 10, 23.
14. How has Satan tried to contaminate the prospective members of the Lamb’s wife?
14 From Pentecost 33 C.E. on, Satan used Babylon the Great as his tool in trying to contaminate the prospective members of the Lamb’s wife. By the end of the first century, he had sown seeds of Babylonish religion in the congregation. (1 Corinthians 15:12; 2 Timothy 2:18; Revelation 2:6, 14, 20) The apostle Paul describes those who were subverting the faith in these words: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14) In succeeding centuries, apostate Christendom, like the rest of Babylon the Great, dressed herself in the clothing of wealth and privilege, “purple and scarlet, . . . gold and precious stone and pearls.” (Revelation 17:4) Her clergy and popes consorted with bloodthirsty emperors, such as Constantine and Charlemagne. She was never arrayed in “the righteous acts of the holy ones.” As a counterfeit bride, she was truly a masterpiece of satanic deception. At last, she is gone forever!
The Lamb’s Wife Has Prepared Herself
15. How does the sealing take place, and what is required of an anointed Christian?
15 So now, after almost 2,000 years, all 144,000 of the bride class have made themselves ready. But at what point of time may it be said that ‘the Lamb’s wife has prepared herself’? Progressively, from Pentecost 33 C.E. on, believing anointed ones “were sealed with the promised holy spirit,” this in view of a coming “day of releasing by ransom.” As the apostle Paul expressed it, God “has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.” (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22) Each anointed Christian is “called and chosen,” and he has proved himself “faithful.”—Revelation 17:14.
16. (a) When was the apostle Paul’s sealing complete, and how do we know? (b) When will the Lamb’s wife have “prepared herself” fully?
16 After decades of testing, Paul himself could declare: “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day, yet not only to me, but also to all those who have loved his manifestation.” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8) The apostle’s sealing appears to have been complete, even though he was still in the flesh and would yet face martyrdom. Similarly, the time must come when all remaining ones on earth of the 144,000 will have been sealed individually as belonging to Jehovah. (2 Timothy 2:19) This will be when the Lamb’s wife will have fully prepared herself—the great majority of the 144,000 having already received their heavenly reward and those still on earth having been finally approved and sealed as faithful ones.
17. When can the marriage of the Lamb take place?
17 At this point in Jehovah’s timetable, when the sealing of the 144,000 has reached completion, the angels release the four winds of the great tribulation. (Revelation 7:1-3) First, judgment is executed on harlotlike Babylon the Great. The victorious Christ next moves on quickly to Armageddon to destroy the rest of Satan’s organization on earth and, finally, to abyss Satan and his demons. (Revelation 19:11–20:3) If any anointed ones still survive on earth, they will doubtless enter into their heavenly reward soon after Christ completes his conquest and will join their fellow members of the bride class. Then, at God’s due time, the marriage of the Lamb can take place!
18. How does Psalm 45 confirm the sequence of events with regard to the marriage of the Lamb?
18 The prophetic account in Psalm 45 describes the order of events. First the enthroned King rides forth to the conquest of his enemies. (Verses 1-7) Then the marriage is performed, the heavenly bride being attended on earth by her virgin companions, the great crowd. (Verses 8-15) Next the marriage becomes fruitful, with resurrected mankind being raised to perfection under oversight of “princes in all the earth.” (Verses 16, 17) What glorious blessings accompany the marriage of the Lamb!
Happy Are Those Invited
19. What is the fourth of the seven happinesses in Revelation, and who share in this particular happiness?
19 John now records the fourth of the seven happinesses in Revelation: “And he [the angel who has been revealing these things to John] tells me: ‘Write: Happy are those invited to the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage.’ Also, he tells me: ‘These are the true sayings of God.’” (Revelation 19:9)e The ones invited to “the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage” are the members of the bride class. (Compare Matthew 22:1-14.) All the anointed bridal company share the happiness of having received this invitation. Most of the invitees have already gone to heaven, the place of the marital evening meal. Those who are still on earth are happy, too, that they have the invitation. Their place at the marital evening meal is secure. (John 14:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-9) When they are resurrected to heaven, then the entire, united bride will proceed to share with the Lamb in that supremely happy marriage.
20. (a) What is the import of the words: “These are the true sayings of God”? (b) How was John affected by the words of the angel, and what was the angel’s response?
20 The angel adds that “these are the true sayings of God.” This word “true” translates the Greek a·le·thi·nosʹ and means “genuine” or “dependable.” Since these sayings are really from Jehovah, they are faithful and reliable. (Compare 1 John 4:1-3; Revelation 21:5; 22:6.) As one invited to that marriage feast, John must have been filled with joy at hearing this and at contemplating the blessings ahead for the bride class. He was so deeply moved, in fact, that the angel had to give him counsel, as John relates: “At that I fell down before his feet to worship him. But he tells me: ‘Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers who have the work of witnessing to Jesus. Worship God.’”—Revelation 19:10a.
21. (a) What does Revelation disclose as to the angels? (b) What attitude should Christians have toward the angels?
21 Throughout Revelation a remarkable witness is given to the faithfulness and diligence of the angels. They are involved in the channel of revealed truth. (Revelation 1:1) They work along with humans in preaching the good news and pouring out the symbolic plagues. (Revelation 14:6, 7; 16:1) They fought alongside Jesus to cast Satan and his angels from heaven, and they will fight alongside him again at Armageddon. (Revelation 12:7; 19:11-14) Indeed, they have access to the very person of Jehovah. (Matthew 18:10; Revelation 15:6) Nevertheless, they are no more than humble slaves of God. There is no room in pure worship for worship of the angels or even for relative worship, directing worship to God via some “saint” or angel. (Colossians 2:18) Christians worship only Jehovah, making their petitions to him in Jesus’ name.—John 14:12, 13.
Jesus’ Role in Prophecy
22. What does the angel say to John, and what do the words mean?
22 The angel then says: “For the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.” (Revelation 19:10b) How so? This means that all inspired prophecy is evoked because of Jesus and the role he plays in Jehovah’s purposes. The first prophecy in the Bible promised the coming of a seed. (Genesis 3:15) Jesus became that Seed. Subsequent revelations built a huge edifice of prophetic truth on this basic promise. The apostle Peter told the believing Gentile Cornelius: “To him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness.” (Acts 10:43) Some 20 years later, the apostle Paul said: “No matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him [Jesus].” (2 Corinthians 1:20) After another 43 years, John himself reminds us: “The truth came to be through Jesus Christ.”—John 1:17.
23. Why does the high position and authority of Jesus not detract from the worship we give to Jehovah?
23 Does this detract in any way from the worship we give to Jehovah? No. Remember the angel’s cautionary advice: “Worship God.” Jesus never tries to rival Jehovah. (Philippians 2:6) True, all the angels are told to “do obeisance to [Jesus],” and all creation must recognize his high position so that “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend.” But notice, this is “to the glory of God the Father” and by his order. (Hebrews 1:6; Philippians 2:9-11) Jehovah gave Jesus his high authority, and by acknowledging that authority, we give glory to God. If we refuse to submit to Jesus’ rule, it is equivalent to rejecting Jehovah God himself.—Psalm 2:11, 12.
24. What two astounding events do we contemplate, and what words should we therefore voice?
24 So, then, let us unitedly voice the opening words of Psalms 146 to 150: “Praise Jah, you people!” May the Hallelujah chorus thunder forth in anticipation of Jehovah’s triumph over the Babylonish world empire of false religion! And may joy abound as the marriage of the Lamb approaches!
a New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
b New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
c New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
d New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
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“Epistle to Sodom and Gomorrah”
Under this feature heading, London’s Daily Telegraph of November 12, 1987, reported on a motion before the General Synod of the Church of England. This called for ousting homosexual “Christians” from the church. Columnist Godfrey Barker stated: “The Archbishop of Canterbury gloomily opined yesterday: ‘If St Paul were to write an epistle to the Church of England, we might well ask what sort of letter it might be.’” Mr. Barker himself commented: “An epistle to Sodom and Gomorrah is the answer,” and added: “Dr Runcie [the archbishop] fancied it would read like Romans, Ch 1.”
The writer quoted Paul’s words at Romans 1:26-32: “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurities. . . . Men committing shameless acts with men . . . though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practise them.” He concluded: “St Paul was merely worried about the chaps in the pews. Dr Runcie’s problem is the chaps in the pulpits.”
Why does the archbishop have such a problem? Large headlines in the London Daily Mail of October 22, 1987, had declared: “‘One vicar in three gay’ . . . Campaign to drive out homosexuals ‘would shut Church of England.’” The reports quoted the “reverend” general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement as saying: “If this motion were accepted it would wreck the Church, and the Archbishop of Canterbury knows it. As a general figure, we believe between 30 and 40 per cent of Church of England clergymen are gay. And they are the most active people contributing to the ministry of the Church.” The dwindling numbers of churchgoers is no doubt in part a reflection of disgust at that burgeoning homosexual ministry.
What did the church synod decide? An overwhelming majority of 388 members (95 percent of the clergy) voted in favor of a watered-down motion. Concerning this, The Economist of November 14, 1987, reported: “The Church of England is against homosexual practices, but not very much. The general synod, the Church’s parliament, with homosexual clergy in mind, this week decided that homosexual acts, unlike fornication and adultery, are not a sin: they merely ‘fall short of the ideal’ that ‘sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship.’” Contrasting the stance of the Archbishop of Canterbury with the apostle Paul’s forthright statement at Romans 1:26, 27, The Economist displayed a quotation of Paul’s words above the caption “St Paul knew what he thought.”
Jesus Christ also knew what he thought and stated it in explicit terms. He said that it would be “more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day” than for the religionists who spurned his message. (Matthew 11:23, 24) Jesus was here using hyperbole to show that those religious leaders who rejected the Son of God and his teaching were even more reprehensible than the Sodomites. Jude 7 states that those Sodomites underwent “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire,” meaning eternal destruction. (Matthew 25:41, 46) How severe, then, will be the judgment of so-called Christian leaders who blindly lead their blinded flocks away from the high moral standards of God’s Kingdom into the permissive, debauched ways of this world! (Matthew 15:14) Concerning false religion, Babylon the Great, the voice from heaven calls with urgency: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Revelation 18:2, 4.
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Heaven resounds with four Hallelujahs, praising Jah for his final victory over Babylon the Great