An upcoming Sabbath School lesson states: “With the destruction of Babylon, the prayer of God’s people, in the scene of the fifth seal, is ultimately answered.” How is this so? Revelation 19:1-2 makes a strong allusion to Revelation 6:10. In that verse, the souls under the altar cry out to God: “How long will it be before you “judge” and “avenge” our blood. . .” (Rev. 6:10, NRSV)? What the Greek literally says is “How long will you be. . . not judging (Greek: krineis) and not avenging (Greek: ekdikeis)?” The verb “is” or “will be” is understood in the original and can be appropriately inserted into a translation. It is like a predicate nominative in English. It is assumed rather than stated. The overall message of Revelation 6:9-10 is this: From the perspective of the souls under the altar, there is no evidence that God is judging or avenging their martyrdom.
It is striking, therefore, that Revelation 19 uses the same two judgment words (“judging” and “avenging”) in the past tense to describe the fall of Babylon. The great multitude in heaven celebrate the fact that God has “judged (Greek: ekrinen) the great prostitute. . . and has avenged (Greek: exedikêsan) on her the blood of his servants” (Rev. 19:2, ESV). There is a clear relationship in the text between the prayer of the fifth seal and the fall of Babylon. In fact, there are no less than eight major words in common between the fifth seal and Revelation 19:1-2. This means that Revelation 19 is to be understood as an answer to the prayers of the saints in the fifth seal. At the end of earth’s history, God will be seen to be righting the wrongs that occurred in the course of that history (Rev. 15:3-4). If there is no judgment and no Second Coming, there will be no justice in this world. Thus, judgment in the Bible is more good news than bad news.