Friday, May 26, 2023

Heaven Beholding Hell (Revelation 18)

"Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!" (Rev. 18:20).

A few questions commonly asked about heaven are “Will the saints remember their former lives on earth?” “Will they see the events taking place on earth?” and “Will they see hell?”

First, the saints do remember their former lives, but these memories do not cause them grief, but fill them with joy as they remember their redemption in Christ, the forgiveness of God, and the fellowship they enjoyed with brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ certainly remembered His former acquaintances after His resurrection; and if we are raised to be like Him, would it be too much to assume that our memories, which are essential to who are are, will remain with us?

Second, we learn from David that in some way the saints witness the goings on of the world, for he took great consolation in God’s promise that he would witness the establishment of his kingdom. As the church triumphant witnesses the travails of the church militant, it will rejoice in the wisdom and glory of God in bringing about His glorious purposes in ways beyond the understanding of those still on earth. As far as the sins and evil remaining on earth, observation of this will not disturb the tranquility of heaven any more than it disturbs God’s tranquility, for the church in heaven will see how all things truly work according to God’s purposes and for His glory.

As for the saints beholding hell, the same principle applies. The heavenly church will not mourn over the wretchedness of those in hell, but will praise God for His purity and righteousness. Their rejoicing will not be a morbid delight in suffering, but will flow from a love of God’s wisdom and justice. Beholding hell will also keep them humble as they are reminded that except for God’s grace, they too would be in hell. Verses support the saints in heaven rejoicing in the state of the wicked. Speaking of the fall of wicked Babylon, the prophet, in Revelation 18:20, writes, “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.” Isaiah wrote, “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind” (66:24).

If the heavenly saints in Scripture are portrayed as praising God for His righteous judgments, what should your attitude toward His judgments be? How can you practically rejoice in God’s judgments, yet remain sensitive to the suffering of others? What is the best thing you can do for someone under God’s judgment?