Revelation 19 (NRSV)
The Rejoicing in Heaven
News is received of Babylon’s demise, and heaven responds with a liturgy of praise. And it is loud!
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
Back in Revelation 7:9-14, we saw a great multitude saved out of the Great Tribulation, ready for the end of the world system and the Antichrist’s reign on earth. Here, this great multitude, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures all join in celebrating the fall of the Antichrist and the world system that supported him.
–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)
“Hallelujah” is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.”
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
2 for his judgments are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 Once more they said,
The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.”
The song makes clear that God’s actions are not arbitrary. The harlot has corrupted the earth, God’s creation. She has also exacted the ultimate price from the martyrs. God’s actions appear appropriate to those who suffered through the difficult days.
It does seem less than Christian to rejoice in the maiming of others, no matter how evil they have been. John does not sidestep the issue. In his view, justice related closely to mercy; in fact, it is one aspect of it. Those who remained faithful have earned the right to the reward, the other side of which is the justice meted out to those who opted for less honorable paths. It is important to bear in mind through the final chapters that John does not see punishment as a contradiction to God’s nature. Christians throughout the centuries, however, have disputed John’s view of how that justice is, and will be, expressed. None have disagreed with him that justice matters greatly to God.
–Robert H. Conn
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying,
5 And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.”
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
The heavenly celebration is not for the defeat of the harlot. It is the introduction to a marriage feast.
–Robert H. Conn
“In Biblical times a marriage involved two major events, the betrothal and the wedding. These were normally separated by a period of time during which the two individuals were considered husband and wife and as such were under the obligations of faithfulness. The wedding began with a procession to the bride’s house, which was followed by a return to the house of the groom for the marriage feast. By analogy, the church, espoused to Christ by faith, now awaits the parousia when the heavenly groom will come for his bride and return to heaven for the marriage feast which lasts throughout eternity.”
–Robert H. Mounce
8 to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
On that day, everyone will see the church for what she really is: the precious bride of Jesus. “The Bride of Christ is a sort of Cinderella now, sitting among the ashes. She is like her Lord, ‘despised and rejected of men’; the watchmen smite her, and take away her veil from her; for they know her not, even as they knew not her Lord. But when he shall appear, then shall she appear also, and in his glorious manifestation she also shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The Rider on the White Horse
Seven final visions: No. 1
According to Zechariah 14:3-4, when Jesus returns He will come first to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The plea of Isaiah 64:1-2 is now fulfilled: Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence; as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil; to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True,
This glorious title shows Jesus is the keeper of promises, including His promises of judgment.
and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The Beast and Its Armies Defeated
Seven final visions: No. 2
This chilling scene is the antithesis of the Lamb’s wedding banquet, to which God’s people have just been invited (Revelation 19:9). Christian audiences may also hear it as a gross parody of the Eucharistic banquet.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth;
Allow me some poetic license with Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress” — “Lo, their doom is sure; one little word shall fell them.”
and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
We join the great multitude in heaven (verse 6) and Michael W. Smith to praise the one who is Faithful and True — HERE is “Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty Reigns!”