What will the world be like when everyone sees that Jesus is Lord? Imagine
Hallelujah . . . Amen!
On Saturday, August 8, 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set sail from Plymouth, England with 29 men. Their quest was to become the first to cross the Antarctic on foot.
In a recent publication, I read how Shackleton had recruited fellow pioneers with an advertisement that read, Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages; bitter cold; long months of complete darkness; constant danger; a safe return doubtful; honor in success. He was an honest man . . . they would experience everything he promised.
As they sailed their way to the continent, disaster struck the expedition when their ship became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before they could land. The men became literally stranded on a huge ice floe – a flat, free-floating mass of ice.
Shackleton was also an able leader and he worked as hard as the rest of them. They nicknamed him simply, “The Boss.” He would eventually become their hero.
He kept the men busy by day as they endured the coming winter. They played ice soccer, had nightly songfests and sled-dog races.
Shackleton also proved himself a self-sacrificing leader, willingly exchanging his warmer sleeping bag for one of his crew; he personally served hot milk to his men every morning and attempted to buoy their spirit.
In the spring, when they realized their thinning ice floe was going to break apart, they made it to a nearby remote island.
Knowing that their rescue from such a desolate island was even more unlikely, Shackleton and five other men decided to risk their lives and cross 800 miles of open Antarctic sea in their lifeboat.
And they made it safely over.
Two different times he attempted to return to his men and rescue them, but had to turn back. On his third attempt, after a 105 day journey, Shackleton kept his word and returned and rescued his stranded crew.
There’s another side to the story that often goes untold; the story of life for these men on that desolate island.
Shackleton had left Frank Wild – his second in command – in charge of the camp. Wild would maintain the routine that had already been established by Shackleton.
He assigned daily duties, served meals, held sing-along times, athletic competitions and he worked hard to keep up the morale of the men in what seemed to be a hopeless situation.
Because the camp was in constant danger of being buried in the snow and becoming completely invisible from the sea, Frank kept his men busy shoveling away drifts of fallen snow.
These men never lost hope . . . but they wondered if they would ever see home.
Barely four days worth of rations remained in the camp when Shackleton finally arrived on an ice-breaking ship. He personally made several trips through the icy waters to ferry members of his crew to safety aboard the ship.
The news media would make this story an international legend of perseverance and hope and a promise kept.
Shackleton later learned from the men how each morning, Frank Wild would say to them, “Be ready boys, the Boss may come today.” / Adapted from David Jeremiah, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, 2008), p. 235
The world has been given the promise . . . Messiah will return to planet earth.
With His bride, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will return in the splendor of His majesty and rescue those who, during the Tribulation have believed His gospel and judge those who disbelieved.
The King is coming in person – the Hero of the Saved; the Judge of the Unsaved.
Before the Crucifixion, the disciples asked Jesus about His return.
This was not a question about the rapture, but about the prophecies of His second coming to earth. The first time He came, the prophecies were fulfilled that he would be born of a virgin, suffer rejection, crucifixion and resurrection.
Now they ask Him, what will be the signs of your second coming? And Christ answered them, describing the cosmic disturbances and the natural disasters that we’ve already studied in Revelation.
Then the Lord said, “After the days of tribulation the Son of Man will appear in the sky” (Matthew 24:3) . . . later on in chapter 25 He prophesied that when He returns in all His glory He will sit upon His glorious throne. (Matthew 15:31)
The King is coming to keep His promise and set the record straight. / Edward Hindson, Revelation: Unlocking the Future (AMG Publishers, 2002), p. 187
Revelation 19 is the textual bridge between the Tribulation and the return of Christ with the church and hosts of heaven.
In fact, next Lord’s day for the handful of you who will be here over Labor Day weekend, we’ll study together a message I have already entitled, “Here Comes the Bride,” for the church – the Bride of Christ – will be described in chapter 19 in all her wedding day beauty.
Revelation chapter 19 opens with this stunning epoch in human history when Jesus Christ is about to come back with His bride to set up His glorious kingdom and throne on earth – a kingdom, as the Gettys sing, “with emerald courts and sapphire skies.”
And is it any wonder that as Christ returns, everyone related to Him is about to burst into song. The atmosphere is absolutely electrifying.
This is the capstone of redemptive history.
We’re given the lyrics as chapter 19 opens, After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah, salvation and glory and power belong to our God.”
What we have here in this amazing scene is all the redeemed along with the hosts of heaven will be shouting, chanting and singing – Hallelujah.
But let me tell you something surprising . . . this is the first time in the entire New Testament that you read this word, Hallelujah.
It doesn’t appear in any other New Testament book and nowhere else in Revelation.
Probably because of its most common use in the Old Testament where you find around 22 different times – most often referring to the rescuing of God’s people Israel and the judgment of the wicked.
So here, in Revelation chapter 19, you have the restoration of Israel to their land and kingdom as well as the presence of God’s glorious Son on the throne of David.
The word Hallelujah is a Hebrew word, transliterated into the Greek language and the English language and every other language for that matter.
Every where I’ve traveled in the world to minister to the body of Christ, everybody knows and uses the word, Hallelujah. I have met people and didn’t know a word of their language, nor they mine and I’ve had a one word conversation – Hallelujah – and they would brighten up – and return with Hallelujah.
No matter where you travel, every Christian knows the opening lyric of praise to the coming King!
Hallelujah is a compound word – a verb and noun squeezed together. The verb, Hallelu, is an imperative form of the verb “praise”. The “ya” ending, to make the word, Hallelu - yah, is the shortened form of Yahweh, the covenant name of God.
Hallelujah then, means, praise the Lord. / David J. MacLeod, Heaven’s Hallelujah Chorus, Bibliotheca Sacra (January-March 1999), pp. 72-84
In the Old Testament, the word is often used in the Psalms. In fact, Psalms 113-118 are called the Hallel Psalms (the Hallelujah Psalms) because of the appearance of this word, Hallelujah in the context of the deliverance of Israel and the destruction of the wicked
We can certainly use that word now – as a New Testament church – we don’t need to wait for the kingdom, because we have been rescued already from the clutches of the Enemy and our bodies are living temples of God’s Spirit.
In fact, it’s a word we ought to get used to using as we speak and sing our praise to God.
Now here in Revelation chapter 19, there are four stanzas to this great hymn of praise and each stanza begins with the same word – Hallelujah.
You can circle the four times this word appears over the next 6 verses;
Hallelujah – in verse 1;
In verse 3, “And the second time they said, Hallelujah;
In verse 4 we hear them adding the word, “Amen to Hallelujah”;
And then, the final Hallelujah at the end of verse 6, Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.
No wonder numerous authors I’ve read consider chapter 19 to be Heaven’s Hallelujah Chorus.
Let’s go through these 4 stanzas – and notice why the hosts of heaven and all the redeemed are singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
- First, they are singing Hallelujah for what God offers.
Notice again verse 1. Hallelujah . . . why? Because salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
These are God’s alone, qualities of His character that He alone is able to gift to those who believe.
For as many as received Him – Jesus Christ – to them he gave the power to become children of God. (John 1:12)
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, for God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Peter promised that the believer would one day rejoice in the glory that awaited the faithful servant of Christ (1 Peter 1:8).
Power, glory and salvation belong to our God – they are God’s possessions to be offered to His own.
So when Bono steps out on the stage during his concerts and puts up on the jumbo screen the word “coexist”. The letter “c” representing the Islamic crescent; the letter “x” representing the Star of David and the letter “t” shown as a cross and then flashes us the leading mantra of the emergent church, and I quote, “Everything you know is wrong” – what’s he referring to? Religion . . . Biblical, propositional truth, once delivered. Bono then leads the crowd in a chant, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed – all true . . . Jesus, Jew, Mohammed – all true!” / Olivetreeview.org
What’s he saying? He’s saying, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are equally true.
Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah who came, was crucified, buried, rose again, ascended and is coming back. Islam doesn’t believe Jesus is God incarnate nor do they believe He even died on the cross. And Judaism believes the Messiah hasn’t even come yet. How can they all be equally true.
That’s like saying I95 south will take you to Florida and at the same time New York and the North Pole.
And thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, are saying in our generation, “Whichever way you want to believe will take you to God . . . isn’t that great?!”
Listen to the statesman like spin of the same message, only this time from Tony Blair, former Prime minister of Great Britain who has now been promoted by the Willow Creek Association in their simulcast leadership conference for evangelical leaders.
Which is a mystery to me why hundreds of churches in America primarily would desire unbelievers to instruct them on how the church should act and Christian leaders lead.
Tony Blair happens to be one of the key players in this global push for unified religion. On his board is a Zen Buddhist, a Hindu, an Anglican, a Protestant pastor and a Jewish Rabbi. His attempt at co-existing.
You can go online and read about his Faith Foundation. He said, – listen carefully and wade through the Christianized words and get his primary message – he said, “God’s Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace that can never be constricted by any one [religion]; be very wary of people who think theirs is the only way.” / Ibid
Be wary of them – whom? He’s referring to Christians who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone.
We’re the problem . . . watch out for us, is what he’s saying.
Peter wrote to the believing church, Listen, if you are reviled – if you are scorned and mistrusted and maligned – for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:14)
But this is the message, we have learned, of Babylon. And the volume of Babylon is growing ever louder.
One world. One political power. One global village. One global economy. Unity among diversity.
And we watched the message grow and take shape until it came to power in the Tribulation under the reign of the Antichrist.
And it ultimately waged open war on God and was defeated . . . now here in Revelation 19 as Christ is set to return, the multitude of heaven is chanting a different tune.
And did you notice it wasn’t, “salvation is from whatever god you like.”
Oh no . . . the lyrics are – Hallelujah – Praise Yahweh . . . salvation and glory and power belong to our God.”
That’s the first hallelujah. Hallelujah for what God offers.
The second hallelujah is for what God settles.
Notice verse 3. And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.
Who is she, referred to here?
Go back to verse 2. Because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her.
She is Babylon. The world system and the world’s empire city.
The world is corrupted by Babylon’s arrogant defiance; her man glorifying, nature exalting, animal worshipping, Christian murdering, promiscuous philandering, false teaching, ego promoting, money loving, sexually deviant, pseudo-spiritual, Christ denying, demonically bound, spiritually blind world system; and just the beginning of profile for Babylon, the pride of earth.
Now you can imagine the hosts of heaven and the world of Christians and the resurrected saints glorifying God for His salvation and glory and power, but we don’t think of glorying in God’s eternal, unrelenting, just, terrifying judgment.
And yet that’s exactly what’s happening here.
We the redeemed are as thrilled over the justice of God as we are the salvation of God.
When God measures out eternal punishment to the followers of the beast; to the great prostitute – the false religion who seduced the hearts of unbelieving mankind; as God measures out His divine justice and eternal punishment to the unredeemed, unrepentant humanity along with all the fallen angels, the believer will be singing, Hallelujah. / Adapted from Kendell H. Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation (Holman, 1998), p. 347
We don’t usually attach the word, “Hallelujah” to the destruction of the unbelieving wicked, do we?
This is a fulfillment of Moses words in Deuteronomy 32:43 where he writes, “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants and will render vengeance on His adversaries.”
David wrote in Psalm 96, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains; let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord – why is all of nature singing praise, as it were to God? – for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness…” (Psalm 96:11-13)
Some might think that the believer and the angelic host of heaven is somewhat insensitive and uncaring to rejoice in the downfall and judgment of Babylon.
That ignores the reality that this city and its inhabitants and the world of followers of Antichrist will have had the greatest opportunities to repent of any people who have ever lived.
- In chapter 6 and again in chapter 9 we’re told the human race at large refuses to repent even though they acknowledge the great plagues and natural disasters have come from the hand of God;
- They will have also heard the most powerful preaching of the gospel in human history through the ministry of 144,000 Jewish evangelists, also recorded in chapter 6;
- The world will also hear and watch the amazing, supernatural, death-defying testimony of the two witnesses in chapter 11;
- Add to that the fact that they will see and hear the angel, in chapter 14 who circles the globe testifying to the gospel of Christ;
- And on top of that, they hear and watch faithful believers choose martyrdom over the Antichrist and refuse to take his mark and walk with joy to the guillotine choosing to die for Christ rather than abandon Christ.
Yet despite all that, the world at large will remain unrepentant to the very end; hardened in their defiant hatred of God. / John MacArthur, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 2000), p. 195
The hosts of heaven and all the believers shout with joy because at the root of all of this is that God will set the record straight.
And the believer who longs to see the world bathed in the unhindered glory of Christ, will rejoice when Christ sits as righteous judge over all the earth.
We long for the day when the name of Jesus is no longer run through the mud. We yearn the day of His glory on earth.
Perhaps you heard about the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland where an open Bible was put on display. Next to the Bible were several pens with a note saying, “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, write your way back into it.”
Within days, so many people had defaced the Bible, writing lewd messages and profanity against God that the Gallery pulled the display.
Messages like one person wrote; this is all sexist sewage . . . another wrote, I am bisexual and proud. I want no god [who disagrees] with this.”
Listen, when the scales of holiness and justice are taken up by the hand of Christ and righteousness prevails and the word of God is vindicated and His character exalted, we will be singing, “Hallelujah!”
Hallelujah for what God offer!
Hallelujah for what God settles!
- There’s a third hallelujah – it’s a Hallelujah for what God fulfills.
Notice verse 4. And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures (the cherubim) fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
That’s it. Only this time the word Amen is added to Hallelujah.
Which is conclusive proof that a few Baptist made it to heaven – we’re not told how many – might be too discouraging.
Amen! This is a word of affirmation. You could render it, “so it is . . . so be it . . . it’s true.”
These are the elders, once again, representing the raptured church throughout the Tribulation passages – they’re in the white robes promised the church; wearing the crowns promised the church and seated on thrones promised also to the church as co-regents with Christ.
And did you notice the angels are thrilled to join in, why?
Because now, more than ever, they are so glad they resisted Satan’s earlier attempt to seize the throne of God. Satan planned a coup attempt against Triune God and these angels had refused to side with Lucifer, the deceiver. / Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation: God’s Last Word (Zondervan, 1971), p. 351
1/3rd of the angelic hosts joined Satan.
This was no small coup attempt. Satan no doubt came to fellow high ranking angels like Gabriel and said, “Listen, join with me and we will together depose God – you will be my chief ambassador in my kingdom.”
And Gabriel said no to the invitation. He believed the word of the Lord that His reign is everlasting and His word is faithful and true.
It would be Gabriel who would later announce to Daniel that the kingdom of God would overthrow the puppet kings of Satan (Daniel 9)
And now what’s happening? God’s word is coming true.
I think Gabriel is here saying, “I’m glad I stayed with Him!”
His word came true – Amen – Hallelujah!
Hallelujah for what God offers.
Hallelujah for what God settles.
Hallelujah for what God occupies.
One more . . .
- There is a final Hallelujah for what God occupies.
Verse 5. And a voice came from the throne (by the way, the language indicates this is coming from the direction of the throne – could be from the cherubim or the church, we don’t know); notice again, Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” The I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of might peals of thunder, saying, Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
God is on His throne. He is victorious. He occupies a throne now without obstruction or competition or rebellion.
He is seen for what He is - the sovereign King of the universe.
Long ago, Gabriel came to a virgin teenager named Mary and announced that she would conceive by God’s Spirit and deliver a baby boy who was none other than the fulfillment of all the prophets had foretold.
He would be the Messiah, and Gabriel told Mary, He will have the throne of David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 2:32-33)
This is the beginning of that fulfillment.
The Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Hallelujah.
Can you imagine the sound of this praise – John records, like the sound of many waters.
Have you ever been to Niagara Falls. What a majestic, mighty, awesome sound of water rushing, falling, cascading down. 6 million cubic feet of water rumbling over the falls ever single minute. My family and I went a few years ago . . . an amazing sight.
So much better than an amusement park . . . they don’t turn it off at night. Oh, imagine the sound of praise . . . like the sound of Niagara.
But listen, how wonderful if it’s just one voice – your voice, offering praise and faith and trust that His word is true.
Amen and Hallelujah are great testimonies of faith, this side of the Kingdom. For you today to say by faith, His word is true; for you to sing through your tears – He is worthy of praise.
I stood in the hospital room a few months ago. One of our dear friends and co-workers had taken a turn for the worse. He had been in the hospital before with a chronic condition that now seemed irreversible and fatal. He had been on life support for several days; his body was running down.
I came over and learned that the doctors had given Dennis 12 hours and they were going to unplug all the paraphernalia . . . they had done everything they could. I stood in his room, I told him goodbye. With tears in our eyes, his dear wife, one of our secretaries asked me to preach his funeral. We talked over some of the details. I left with a heavy heart and drove home and told Marsha the updated news.
But during the night, something happened. No one knows for sure what . . . but Dennis began to improve . . . his vital signs improved. Within hours he was off life support and asking to eat and drink. Long story short, within days he was back at work.
And I’m not planning his funeral; he’ll probably outlive me.
His wife told me later that as he was coming back to life, literally; he was able to breathe on his own and they took out his breathing tube. And the nurses heard him singing – while unconscious – they heard him singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
Now Dennis isn’t in the choir . . . there’s probably a good reason for that.
But imagine that! Just one of God’s trusting believers, even while in and out of consciousness, with this tune in his mind; singing one word over and over again – this word that is uniquely reserved for the people of God.
It’s the word of the redeemed . . . it’s a word for those who’ve been rescued.
Hallelujah . . . Hallelujah . . . amen!