Isa. 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
- Consider what is being said in the above verse. God will not “remember” the former heavens and earth. Would this apply to His physical creation? What would be the point for that “never coming to His mind?” On the other hand, if He is referring to the Old Heaven and Earth cosmological world order through the animal sacrificial system, and this such system which started in the Garden, and then was codified through the old specially chosen physical nation of Israel, wouldn’t that make sense? He would not “remember” that system, or those laws and sacrifices ever again à they would never again have any validity, because now He has a New Covenant of salvation by grace through the shed blood of Christ on the cross called His true spiritual Israel believers.
- This term “remember” is covenantal language, and must not be interpreted by our modern dictionary or cultural worldview, but as always, we must let the Bible provide for us the definition of words.
- This term “remember” is of the same context as Jer. 3:15-16, “Then it shall come to pass…that they will say no more, ‘the ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.”
- This is in reference to the restoration of true Israel in Acts 3:19-21, when the NC through Jesus Christ would supersede the OC as spoken of in Heb. 8:13. Jeremiah says that the Ark of the Covenant will not be visited, not be rebuilt, and not be remembered. This clearly does not mean forgotten from the mind, but is covenantal language à never to be valid again à never to be sought after to have its significance reconstituted again.
- Exod. 2:24 says, “So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”
- We clearly know that God did not “forget” his people, or just then hear their plea and remember His covenant again.
- Gen. 8:1, “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing…”
- Here God is saying that He remembered His word, His promise, His covenant with Noah.
- Isa. 63:11 says, “The He remembered the days of old, Moses and His people…”
- In vs. 10 we were just told how God had turned on rebellious OC Israel and fought against them as their enemy. Then he “remembered” – clear covenantal talk showing how He would act and do something because of His promised covenant.
- Lam. 2:1 says, “…the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud of His anger! He cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel, and did not remember His footstool in the day of His anger.”
- Here God is giving the contrast of “not remembering,” where clearly we know He does not turn on and off His memory. Israel here is depicted as “cast down from heaven” and under God’s anger and judgment and not the blessings of privileged covenantal relationship (described in this verse as being His footstool).
- (Read) Rev. 16:19 says, “Now the great city…and great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” (Read) Rev. 18:5, “for her sins have reached heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” And (read) Rev. 11:8, “and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city…where our Lord was crucified.”
- “Remembered” is covenantal language – in all of history – only OC Israel ever was in a covenant with God!
- All of the previous verses we have looked at confirm the same as here in Revelation – “Babylon” – “that great city” – “where our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8) – can be no other city than OC Jerusalem.
- Rev. 16:19 echoes the promise of Ezek. 23:31-33 that Judah would drink and drain the cup of God’s wrath for her sins. As well as the promise of Jesus in Matt. 23:32-39, and reiterated by Paul in 1 Thess. 2:14-16.
- A few other verses to look at to better understand this Biblical covenantal language of “remember”: (read) Psa. 105:42, 106:45; Luke 1:72
REVELATION 16:19 BABYLON
“REMEMBERED BEFORE GOD”
Revelation 16:19 says the great city Babylon was “remembered before God.” Unfortunately, this statement is commonly ignored as being of any consequence, yet historically it is very meaningful. The word “remembered” is associated with God’s covenant dealings with Israel.
That “remembering” may involve blessings for obedience, or the curses of the covenant upon disobedience.
While the word “remember” sometimes refers to the simple mental recall of past events, in the Old Testament, “remember,” has a distinctively Covenantal context. (See Genesis 8:1, 9:15-16; Exodus 2:24, 6:6-8; Leviticus 26:40-42; Deuteronomy 7-8; Psalms 105:8; Isaiah 63:10-11, 65:17; Jeremiah 3:14-17, 14:19-21, etc…)
After a concordance study, I have not been unable to find a clear cut example in which God “remembered” the sins of any nation except Israel. There are many examples of God remembering His covenant with them, of them forgetting their covenant with Him, of Him remembering their sin, but there is no example of God “remembering” the sin of any nation except Israel – this is a distinctively covenantal concept.
The word “remembered” (Strong’s #2142), is used some 49 times in the OT. Of those occurrences, it is used to say that Yahweh remembered His covenant with Abraham, Israel, or even different individuals. In the other occurrences we find individuals remembering historical events (Genesis 42:9), or people (Esther 2:1), or other “mundane” examples of simple memory recall. However, when used of Yahweh’s “remembering,” the word is used in the preponderant number of cases to refer to a recalling of covenant promises.
This fact is significant when we consider that the author of the Apocalypse is writing in the context of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel, as we have seen. The language of Revelation is drawn from the Old Covenant, based on the Old Covenant, and concerned with the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. For Yahweh to remember Babylon is highly suggestive that there was a covenant relationship between Babylon and Yahweh that served as the basis for His judicial actions against her.
The question then is, what precisely is it that Yahweh was going to remember about Babylon? Revelation 18:5-8 gives us the definitive answer, as if chapter 16 didn’t. In chapter 18 we have the description of the fall of Babylon and the reason for it, “For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (v. 5). So, God was destroying Babylon because she had reached the pinnacle of rebellion, her cup was “full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication,” and she was, “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (17:4-6). The Bible does not leave us to wonder about who fits that description. We are not left to wonder who it was that God was going to “remember” for her immorality and blood guilt.
As we have seen, Jesus identified Jerusalem as the city guilty of “adultery” (Matthew 13:38-39, 16:1-4), and, “in her was found all the righteous blood of all the righteous, from Abel through to Zechariah” (Matthew 23:34-36). It was Jerusalem that had not only killed the prophets of Old, but they were going to kill Jesus’ apostles and prophets, just as Babylon in Revelation had now done (Matthew 23:34; Revelation 18:20, 24). Her bloody ways were now coming to a climax, however. Israel would fill the measure of her sin, and be judged in Jesus’ generation. God would “remember” her, and bring Covenantal Wrath on her head.
If one holds to a futurist view, it is difficult to see where John has shifted his focus from that of His Master, to some other entity, some other city. John had stood with Jesus in the temple and heard His condemnation of Israel and Jerusalem for the very things that John is now describing about Babylon. He heard Jesus emphasize that the judgment was to be the fulfillment of all that the prophets had spoken (Luke 21:22), and now he said that the fulfillment of Revelation would be the fulfillment of all that the prophets had foretold (10:7-10). He knew that the judgment of Israel foretold by Jesus was coming because of her violation of the Covenant, and now he is using the language of Covenant to explain the impending judgment on Babylon. He had heard Jesus warn that the judgment was coming in that generation, and now John is reiterating the warning of imminent judgment.
Neither ancient Babylon nor Rome was ever in a covenant relationship with Yahweh. Never. Would it not be strange, therefore, for John, writing in a book so rich in covenant language, to apply that distinctive language to these cities that were foreign to the covenant? Why would John transfer that covenant language to a non-covenant city?
The “remembering” of Babylon’s sins, and especially the sin of adultery and bloodguilt, is just another example of the consistent usage of Biblical language and concepts. Are we to ignore the hundreds of Old Testament quotes, citations and allusions found in the book, or give them totally new meanings? Are we to believe that John’s readers knew, that even though the Old Testament was the fountain from which the Apocalypse flowed, the meaning of all the language and symbols was now totally foreign to the Old Testament texts being cited? The term “remembering” is covenantal. Unless it can be proven that Revelation 16 is an exception to the otherwise consistent application to God’s dealing with Israel/Jerusalem, then Babylon in Revelation 16:19 can be no other city than Jerusalem.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
[Also see: under ‘Articles,’ subsection ‘Other Articles,’ under W: “Whore of Babylon – Rome or Jerusalem?”]
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 5 Rev. Chapters 14 thru 16”]