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Revelation 19:1–5

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants’ ” (vv. 1–2).

How should the people of God respond when their enemies fall? The answer, as Revelation 19:1–5 indicates, is that we should rejoice. Some Christians have found this notion odd. After all, the Bible does tell us to love our enemies and even to bless those who persecute us (Matt. 5:43–48; Rom. 12:14). Thus, it might seem strange that we should be glad when those who oppose Christ and the church suffer defeat. However, the ideas of loving the enemies of the church and rejoicing at their defeat are not opposed. We can pray for God’s justice to be done in this world and for His enemies to be defeated, yet at the same time we can love our neighbors and pray for those who seek to do us harm. It is also possible to look for the defeat of the church’s enemies in that Christ subdues their hearts, converting them to Himself. Certainly, we should rejoice when Jesus defeats the enemies of the church by turning them into His disciples.

Yet there is also a place for rejoicing when those who are fiercely opposed to the cause of the gospel are defeated. We should not shed a tear at the end of those nations and empires that have killed believers and have spread idolatry and immorality around the globe. The angels and saints in heaven do not mourn when such evil world powers come to an end. Instead, they praise God for displaying His justice in avenging the blood of His servants (Rev. 19:1–2).

Certainly, from one perspective there is some degree of sadness whenever someone made in the image of God goes to death without having repented and trusted in Christ. We mourn the tragedy of death outside the kingdom, for the Lord’s image bearers were designed for eternal fellowship with Him and His people. Men and women who die outside of Christ will never experience fellowship with God or with His people. But the Lord is glorified in His justice just as He is glorified in His mercy. One theologian has said that Christian maturity involves being able to praise God not only for His love and mercy but also for His perfect justice. If we love God, we want Him to be magnified for who He is, including who He is as the Judge of all the earth who must do what is right. It is right to rejoice when Rome and other evil empires fall, as we see in today’s passage, for in these falls, God’s glory and truthfulness are made manifest.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Christians seek for God’s glory to be displayed in all the earth (Ps. 57). Since God’s glory is really the fullness of all His attributes, this means that we can rejoice when His justice is shown. We should never do so in a vindictive way, and we pray that those who hate God would have their hearts changed to love Him. Nevertheless, it is a good thing when the foes of the gospel are defeated.

For Further Study
  • Psalm 99
  • Isaiah 5:16
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:5–12
  • Revelation 18:19–20

The Fall of Babylon

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Keep Reading The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus

From the December 2020 Issue
Dec 2020 Issue