Rejoicing in Heaven

Revelation 19:1-8 I. The Voices of Praise and Celebration (Revelation 19:1-4)

By way of overview and explanation, Ellicott wrote that this last “Alleluia” clearly belongs to the song or chorus that divine, heavenly host. It is separated from the body of it by the descriptive words (Revelation 19:3).

“And again they said, Alleluia” or better “and a second time” they have said” (compare verse 1 with verse 3). The apostle, as he writes, seems to hear once more the strains of the anthem: He writes down the words and, as the final “Alleluia” bursts forth after a musical pause, so he writes, “once more they have said Alleluia.” The word Alleluia occurs in this passage no less than four times (Revelation 19:1; 3-4; and 6): It is nowhere else used in the New Testament; but it is familiar to us in the Psalms, as fifteen of them begin or end with “Praise ye the Lord” or “Hallelujah” and the genius of 18th Century music composer George Frideric Handel (notably, “Handel’s Messiah’s ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus”) has enshrined the word in imperishable music.

The song here does not begin with ascribing “salvation” to God, as the English version suggests it rather affirms the fact: The salvation is God’s. It is the echo of the ancient utterance- “Salvation belongeth unto God” (Psalm 3:8). It is the triumphant affirmation of the truth by which the church and children of God had sustained their struggling petitions, as they closed the prayer which Christ Himself had taught them, saying, when too often it seemed to be otherwise, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” So here they give a threefold praise: The salvation, and the glory, and the power are all God’s. The manifestation of His power is in the deliverance of His children from the evil, from the great harlot, and in the avenging the blood of His servants out of her hand, “forcing, as it were, out of her hand the price of their blood.”

II. The Call to Worship (Revelation 19:5-6)

Here we see that the Old Testament expression “servants of God” is implied not simply to membership in a community of which God is king, but special devotion to his service and worship. It was not associated with any idea of “slavery to a divine despot,” but was originally confined in the main to royal and priestly families (note Revelation 1:5) which had a special interest in primitive religious terms in which one was near to the god of the tribe or nation. Hence, in the broader and later sense of the term, the “servants of God” are all those who live in pious fear of him, that is, yielding him honor and obedience. John, pre-occupied with judgment, views the faith of the Lord as equivalent to and practically in his fear. This view runs somewhat contrary to and unlike most early Christian writers, who (1 Peter 1:17-18) carefully bring forward the complementary element of love. It is here that lowly confidence rather than warm intimacy is this prophet’s ideal of the Christian life towards God. (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude” (verse 6) — This is the response to the invitation just uttered in verse 5. Again “the voice of a multitude,” as in verse 1. “And as the voice of many waters.” That is, in its suggestiveness of great power and magnitude (see Revelation 1:15; 14:2; Psalm 93:3; and Jeremiah 51:16). “And as the voice of mighty thunderings” implies, a repetition of the idea contained in the preceding clause.

“Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Or “Hallelujah,” as it is sometimes rendered in its contemporary version). And so it is that these words connect the present passage with Revelation 17:14. They exhibit, as it were, the culminating reason for this adoration of God. He has exhibited his almighty power in the overthrow of Babylon, who said, “I sit a queen” and in the overthrow (which has yet to be narrated more fully in the Book of Revelation) of the kings of the earth. (Pulpit Commentary)

III. The Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-8)

This, my friend, again is a “proleptic allusion” to the triumphant bliss as a marriage between the victorious messiah and his people or the new Jerusalem. The conception is primarily eschatological and is so employed here. The marriage-day of Christ and his church is the day of his second advent. This is the more intimate and tender aspect of the divine. But, as a traditional feature of the Oriental myth (example in Jeremiah 45) was the postponement of the deity’s wedding until he returned from victory (after vanquishing the darkness and cold of the winter). Thus, the religious application turns first of all to the overthrow of messiah’s foes (Revelation 19:11ff). (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains that the first suggestion of this image in the New Testament is in our Lord’s parables, Matthew 22:2; 25:1-10. This illustration is more fully described by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:22-32. But men’s minds were prepared for it by the language of all the prophets about the spiritual marriage of the Lord and Israel; still more, perhaps, by that of Psalm 45, rising so far above the royal marriage that no doubt furnished its occasion.

And so it is in verse 8 we read, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white” or as the text can be rendered, “and it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright (and) pure.” The double nature of the process is here set forth. “It was given her” seeks to explain that the power comes from God (note Revelation 13:5), and yet “she arrays herself” reveals that the action is still voluntary. (Pulpit Commentary)

Central Text: Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. — Revelation 19:7

Dr. Wayne M. Williams and his wife of 40 years, Lita, reside in Athens.

Dr. Wayne M. Williams and his wife of 40 years, Lita, reside in Athens.

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