Cheering at Destruction: Revelation 18 – 19

Babylon Destroyed, The Prostitute Destroyed. Angelic Celebration. The White Rider and His Victory. The Beast and the False Prophet into Hell.

“And again they shouted:
           ‘Hallelujah!
           The smoke from [Babylon] goes up for ever and ever.”
Revelation 19:3 (NIV)

If you like Michael Bay movies, then Revelation must be your biblical feast. I thought we left the torture porn back in the Old Testament, but here, John serves us a heap of destruction that makes for a fittingly eventful demise to our beloved planet.

The Bible has seen many heroic characters succeed and fail in their efforts, but a sense of justice has always pervaded. Jesus is the obvious example, but don’t forget about his the trailblazers that set the stage for vindicated martyrs. Take Job, who after decades of torture from the invisible Satan ended up more blessed for his pain. Then there is Samson, who was blinded and imprisoned, only to gain back his strength and destroy his enemies with the sacrifice of his life. I can’t think of a single example where the good guy truly “loses” and the enemy runs off into the sunset. Judas almost gets away with it, but then he hangs himself, enacting our revenge against himself. Nebuchadnezzar sort of gets away with his conquest of Judah and Israel, but it is all to set up the political atmosphere of the New Testament.

Revelation makes for a fascinating read, because we are the enemy of God. He delights in His holy revenge against us. It is still unclear to me whether or not believers will be “raptured” into Heaven before this all is meant to occur; Revelation makes no mention of an event like that. So let’s say that man is not raptured. That means that only 144,000 men (and yes, only men) will be admitted into Heaven throughout the Tribulation. Out of 8 billion, only .002% of us may be holy. Think about that.

And the rhetoric is brutal to us. We are told that only the “kings of the world” who commit great evil will mourn over the loss of Babylon – that city that represents all of us. At the same time, the angels in Heaven are rejoicing over it, claiming that the smoke from Babylon’s ruins will rise forever and ever amidst eternal joy.

I get it. This is all just emphasizing how God views us. We are His enemies. In order to accept the Christian doctrine, you must learn to live with the ambiguity about where you stand. Yes, God loves you, and you were made in His image. But also, yes, you are His enemy, just by your nature.

God loves us, but He hates our sin. Sound familiar?

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