Let your mind drift back to the voices of Revelation 18. As Babylon’s destruction became known the world over the kings, the merchants and the sailors raised their voices in lament. Sadness and mourning, things Babylon said she would never know, were the order of that day. The last to join their voices to the weeping processions were the poor of the earth. Those socioeconomically disadvantaged were the sailors and tucked toward the end of their sorrows was something the merchants and kings said nothing of. Do you remember it? That voice from the poorest of Babylon’s servants said the following:
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” (Revelation 18:20–ESV)
Fast forward to the passage of this lesson.
“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,” (Revelation 19:1–ESV)
What do you see as first into John’s awareness? A new noise. A loud one. It was not merely a loud noise, but it was a multitude and what they were saying was not hidden. They were proclaiming things about God. It was an ultimate worship service.
Isn’t that exactly what the sailors concluded with? Moving from an earth scene in 18 to a heaven scene in 19 we see souls not lost, but souls in God’s kingdom. There is a bunch of them.
Their voices are neither the whimpers nor wails of defeat. Those were coming from Babylon’s consorts. This is another scene entirely, an ultimate worship service. The souls taking part in this worship service were those the world did not want. Near the end of Hebrews 11 there is a martyrs roll and verse 38 tells us “the world was not worthy of them.” They have not really perished but rather departed and are with Christ. To depart and be with Christ is a thing that Paul said was better by far1. In Revelation 19 we get to glimpse those experiencing that “better by far.”
Pull-a-part #1: Salvation is one of God’s things
John heard the voices and these stuck with him. It was not merely a sound they were making, but their exultation was in characteristics of God. The first thing the multitude announced was that of salvation.
When I came to this announcement it seemed to me odd that God possesses salvation. He does not need saved so how can he possess it? I had to work through this a while, but here is an example of how God settled that oddness to me. Suppose you fall of a cruise ship and are floundering about in the water. On the edge of one of the balconies is a person standing with a life preserver. They clearly don’t need saved from drowning, and as such hardly can need the life preserver. Nevertheless they still hold the key to your life in their hands. Salvation belongs to the person on the boat.
God has the ability to save all of mankind. In that sense salvation belongs to God. These men and women in heaven knew that and sang Hallelujah! to God for having it. It took a long time in coming, but the salvation from oppression did come.