Verse 21: A strong angel now performs a symbolic action to express the complete and violent destruction which has come upon this city. By throwing a millstone into the sea we are reminded of the Lords warning to stumbling blocks. He said, It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble (Lk 17:2). This city was the capital of an empire which caused untold numbers of people to stumble away from God. The angels action expresses the violent way Babylon will be destroyed, but it also warns that a worse judgment awaits it. The people of this empire will stand before Gods throne and receive an eternal judgment. Surely it would have been better for those with the mark (Rev 13:16, 17) to have died before selling their souls to the devil.
Verses 22, 23: The luxuries for which they were willing to worship the Antichrist are now gone forever. The music, jewelry, furniture and good food for which they traded their eternal life have ceased forever. Lights will no longer glow in their homes and their children will no longer start new families of their own. They thought that this world would go on forever and that its pleasures were more important than eternal life with God, but now they will discover they were deceived. Verse 24: From this city flowed not only spiritual deception, but murder. In her was found the blood of the prophets and of the saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. The entire political and economic life of this world-wide empire will be based on one requirement: that a person worship the Antichrists image. Only by doing so will anyone be allowed to participate in the economy, and those without a mark will be killed if caught. So, though the annihilation of those without a mark will take place around the world, this city is ultimately responsible because the edict will come from here.
Revelation 19:1, 2
With the words, after these things John lets us know the vision of the fall of Babylon has ended and another vision has begun. It appears he is still standing beside the angel he met in 17:1. Though he doesnt mention the angels presence, we discover he is there at verses 9 and 10 (Rev 19:9, 10). Verses 1, 2: In the middle of the description of the downfall of Babylon a voice commanded the inhabitants of heaven and all believers to rejoice over herЙ because God has pronounced judgment for you against her (18:20). Now John hears the sound of an enormous multitude worshipping. The roar of voices is coming from a huge crowd in heaven who are responding to the angels command. In unison they shout, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God because His judgments are true and righteous. Contained in their words of praise are two principle reasons for Gods violent judgment of Babylon: 1) the false religion which flowed from this place brought eternal judgment to most of the earths population; and 2) the widespread slaughter of Gods people. The Antichrists empire will have done so much evil to so many people that God will be morally obligated to destroy it. His justice will demand that the horror be stopped.
Verse 3: The Antichrists empire will be destroyed completely. Never again will Gods people have to endure its persecutions. This realization brings a second eruption of worship as they shout, Her smoke rises up forever and ever. Repeatedly over the course of human history this vile spirit tried to rise and capture the planet, and up until this final seven-year period God always restrained it (2Th 2:6, 7). But, as weve seen, at the end of this age He will remove His hand letting the final beast come forth. Its reasonable to ask the question at this point, why would He allow the Antichrist to function freely even for a brief period? I believe the answer includes two reasons: 1) By doing so He demonstrates what would have taken place long before had He not protected the earth. Over the course of the tribulation we see the true heart of the serpent to which human rebellion opened the door. Without Gods superintending grace this is the spirit that would have ruled the earth in every generation. And 2) the choice for or against Jesus Christ will become so clear during the final days that by the time He returns the entire human race will have been divided into two distinct camps: those who love Jesus enough to die for Him and those who hate Him. No one will be left sitting on the fence.
Revelation 19:4, 5
Verse 4: The twenty-four elders are human representatives. Twelve of whom have been chosen from the true Israel (old covenant) and twelve from the true Church (new covenant). The spirit of Antichrist has troubled Gods people throughout human history (Ge 10:8-12; 11:1-9; Da 7:4-7; 1Jn 2:18-22). It does not newly arrive in the last days. So men and women of faith from every generation will rejoice to see its final destruction. The four created beings who surround Gods throne (Rev 4:6-8) join these elders as they fall prostrate before God exclaiming, Amen. Hallelujah! Verse 5: Next, a voice can be heard coming from the area of Gods throne commanding everyone to give praise to God. Gods bond servants and those who fear Him from the small to the great are all addressed. Were not told whose voice actually issues the command, just that its someone located near the throne. There are several possibilities: the Holy Spirit (Rev 1:4); Jesus Himself (Rev 3:21; 5:6); the four created beings and the twenty-four elders (Rev 4:4-6); angels (Rev 7:11) and even believers (Rev 7:9), so we can only guess who is speaking. But the command is clear: All are to praise Him, and the Greek word used for praise implies that Gods people are to glorify Him by describing the wonderful things He has done.
Verse 6: In response John hears the roar of an enormous multitude of voices which he likens to the crashing of ocean waves or loud claps of thunder. The attention of the worshippers has turned away from the destruction of Babylon and is now focused on the arrival of a very special moment. At last the people of God are to be united with Jesus Christ, never to be separated again. Of course at death every believer is immediately awake and present with the Lord (Mt 17:3; Mk 12:27; Lk 23:43; Jn 14:2, 3; 2Co 5:6-9; Php 1:21-24), but up until now there have always been believers who were yet to arrive, either because they had not yet been born or had not yet died. And, importantly, until the rapture and resurrection those who die, though conscious and present with the Lord, are incomplete because they are clothed in something less than a resurrected body (2Co 5:1-4).
Verse 7: Just before the Lord physically returns to earth (Rev 19:11-16) a great gathering takes place in heaven. All who have died are joined by all who have survived the Antichrists genocide. For this union to take place the rapture must occur (Mt 24:31; 1Co 15:50-55; 1Th 4:13-18). Exactly where the rapture takes place in the chronology of Johns Revelation is not certain, but if it has not happened before this it certainly happens now. The gathering is called the marriage supper of the Lamb. The bridegroom is the Lamb, using a title for Jesus which reminds us of His suffering and death, and the enormous multitude of people for whom He died is the Bride. And this is the day they are married, meaning at last all are resurrected and face to face with Christ, never to be separated again.