On May 1, 2011 the world heard of the demise of a long sought after criminal. He was openly responsible for violent acts against the United States of America. He, while living, strategized for and encouraged others who would kill, maim or otherwise harm any American or ally of America. By definition, he was an enemy of the USA.
In the moments, hours and days following, the news of his death brought reaction. Crowds gathered at high profile places. Outside of the White House, at Ground Zero in New York City, at military academies, and elsewhere people assembled and displayed their feelings for the death of one who saw their beloved country as a foe to be taken from its position of power and made subservient to his ends.
The reaction was jubilation. At long last, almost 10 years from the date this man’s hallmark plot to kill came to fruition, the nation could breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, vengeance had taken place. The one who killed had now been slain. The one whose voice was used to mock and taunt his enemy was now silenced. Retribution, to the highest order, had occurred at the hands of the one whom the destroyer sought to unseat. Crowds sang patriotic songs, chanted, ‘USA, USA’ and in other ways showed that they were so happy for this day in America. Justice had been done!
In a recent message from Revelation 19 that was primarily focused on the marriage of the Lamb and His bride, it was pointed out that the word, ‘Alleluia’ was used only four times in the New Testament and they all appear in that chapter. Further, it was shown that the word was used by the Psalmist on multiple occasions, sometimes at the beginning of a Psalm, sometimes at the end and sometimes at both the beginning and the end.
Of particular interest was the reason for the use of the word which means ‘Praise Ye Jah’. In Revelation 19, understanding the time and setting is important. John has been privileged to observe a scene, even yet future, in heaven. It is ‘after these things’ that this particular scene unfolds. The ‘these things’ include the beginnings of the outpourings of the wrath of God. Bowls of wrath have been emptied on the inhabitants of the earth. A mysterious woman whose influence was widespread and mighty (for it affected the ‘kings of the earth’) had been judged by the One whose judgments are ever ‘true and righteous’. Further, this unleashing of God’s judgment was for the cause of ‘aveng[ing] the blood of His servants’, something for which they had long sought. Men, in short, suffered horribly and many died.
The ones who suffered at the hand of God were not innocents. They carried all the marks of, and were in fact, enemies of His. They openly rebelled against the ‘Lord of heaven and earth’. They hated and killed His servants.
The heavenly host reacted to these acts of God. They were acts of justice! The Lord had at long last taken action against those who hate Him and His people. Their reaction was one of jubilation. They praised Him profusely. Multitudes did not contain their joy and exulted with words of highest admiration. It was as if a portion of the Song of Moses was taken to its highest meaning: ‘The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea’.
Make no mistake, the Bible makes it clear that God has enemies and that He will take vengeance on them. Rebellion began in heaven with Satan. It showed up on earth in the first man. By continually resisting God’s place and authority the rebel proves himself to be an enemy of the one in authority. Furthermore, man in his natural state is no innocent in the matter. All men are ‘enemies in their mind by wicked works’. Apart from God’s electing, quickening, saving grace men will remain in that state and find themselves among the number that the Lord will take vengeance upon. This vengeance will take the form of punishment in Hades upon death and permanence of suffering in the lake of fire upon final judgment at the Great White Throne, the Second Death.
Today is a day of grace. The gospel preacher, knowing the terror of the Lord persuades men. They cry for men to repent and offer pardon to rebels. They do not call fire out of heaven to destroy but rather leave the day of vengeance to the Lord.
But, when the time is ripe for judgment, the mindset of the believer will be in unison with his Lord. They will rejoice that the ‘wicked are consumed from the earth’. What seems so foreign to us now, praising God for judging the wicked, will become a source of jubilation to us then. For then, just as with the enemy of state recently killed, justice will have been served. This time, however, the one who doles out justice will be God himself.