Our view of God's justice determines whether we lament or praise Him.
Revelation(53) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(51) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on January 13, 2019 (Sunday Morning(282))
“In 1712, the brilliant hot-tempered German composer George Frideric Handel moved to London, where he lived until his death in 1759. He achieved great fame as a composer of Italian opera, but abandoned opera for the oratorio in 1741. The oratorio originated as a musical drama to be played without staging in an ‘oratory’ or meeting room. Principal singers represented biblical characters or saints from Christian history, with a chorus interpreting the events.
Handel began to work on Messiah in 1741, using words from Scripture compiled by his friend Charles Jennens. He composed the music for all fifty-three numbers in an unbelievable twenty-four days. Handle conducted the first public performance for Messiah in Dublin on April 13, 1742. He gave his last presentation the day before he died.
The thrilling ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus is Handel at his best, and the tradition of the audience standing while it is sung began in Handel’s own lifetime. He brilliantly divided the choir into two groups that sing different themes. Messiah has remained the most frequently performed and highly regarded oratorio ever written. While audiences in the United States associate it with Christmas, in Handel’s day Messiah was an Easter presentation, for the ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus is really not about Christmas but about Christ’s final victory. Jennens’ words were taken directly from the only chapter in the New Testament that uses the word hallelujah, Revelation 19. ‘For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth’ will come true in its fullest and most complete sense only at the mighty return of Jesus Christ in triumph.”
[Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 345].
December 29, 2018 was the last day of deer hunting at Letterkenny Army Depot
I met my buddy early in the morning and we drove over to Letterkenny
After checking in, getting dropped off, and settling in to the location where I was going to hunt, I had time to sit in the dark and marvel at God’s creation
A beautiful day was unfolding as I stared up into the night sky
The moon was nearly full, the stars were speckled across the sky
I sat there and rejoiced at the beauty of God’s creation
I didn’t even see a deer that day, but it didn’t matter, because I had seen the creative hand of God and that was enough
Birth of our boys
I was able to be in the labor delivery room for all three of our boy’s births
Judy will verify that I cried all three times
Birth has been one of the most profoundly emotional and spiritual experiences for me
To see God’s creative power birthed is unlike any other thing I’ve experienced
My tears were simply tears of joy, as I rejoiced in God’s glory and power
Rejoicing in God’s power and glory
All of us have at least one experience in life where we have rejoiced in God’s power and glory
What was that experience for you?
I want you to think about that as we look at this passage this morning
John continues to hear incredible things taking place at the end of time. He heard in Revelation 18 about the destruction of “Babylon the Great,” and three groups that lamented the loss of this great city. In Revelation 19 he will hear the praises of three groups that have viewed the exact same scene, the destruction of “Babylon the Great.” What John wants us to understand is that . . .
BIG IDEA – Our view of God’s justice determines whether we lament or praise Him.
GOD (Revelation 19:1-5)
Heavenly multitude (vv. 1-3)
What John is about to hear happens right after he hears the news about Babylon’s destruction
That’s what we saw in chapters 17-18
In fact, the praises we’ll see from the three groups, are in obedience to the command found in Revelation 18:20, “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.”
The praises from these three groups are in direct contrast to the weeping and mourning of the kings of the earth, the merchants, and the mariners (Rev. 18:9-20)
Roar of a great multitude in heaven
We see again this little word, “like,” that John uses to try to describe what he’s hearing and/or seeing in these visions about the end times
What he heard sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven
Most English translations of the Bible say that John heard what sounded like the voice or loud/great voice of a great multitude in heaven
We know what was being said, because John records it for us
Hallelujah is actually a transliteration of two Hebrew words
It only appears in the New Testament in Revelation 19
It is derived from two Hebrew words that are combined
Hālal – which means “praise”
Jah – which is a shortened version of Yahweh
“The basic meaning of the verb is ‘to be bright,’ and the causative meaning of the piel imperative means, literally, ‘make Yahweh bright,’ that is ‘illuminate the Lord by casting a bright light on Him and His works!’ ‘Praise Yahweh!’ ‘Praise the Lord!’” [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 645-46]
Hallelujah is found throughout the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms
Psalm 113-118 are called the Hallel psalms
The title “Praise the Lord” is used at the beginning of multiple psalms (106, 111, 112, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150)
What we see next are six attributes of God and works He’s done, that this great multitude in heaven are praising Him for
Reasons for the multitude’s praise
This isn’t the first time we see praise in Revelation for God’s salvation (7:10; 12:10)
The multitude in heaven is probably comprised of angels, but also saints who died either by natural causes or martyrdom
The saints are particularly aware of the Lord’s salvation
They are with Him now as a result of a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus
As followers of Jesus Christ, who have a personal relationship with Jesus, we can also praise the Lord for His salvation
We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven
We can praise Him every day for sending Jesus to take our punishment on the cross
Perhaps there are those here today, who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
There are all kinds of belief systems that Satan uses to keep us from experiencing true salvation
He likes to use the misconception that hopefully the good things we do, will outweigh the bad things we do (false)
He tells others that all religions lead to heaven and the One true God – all religions/roads will lead to God, but not all will lead to heaven (false)
God is loving and therefore He will accept me when I die no matter what I’ve done on earth (false)
In our humanness we try to find another way to heaven without following God’s plan
Proverbs 14:12; 16:25, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death
We have to follow God’s way of salvation for humanity
Paul outlines God’s salvation plan throughout His letter to the Romans
All have sinned – human condition (Rom. 3:23)
We all deserve to die for our own sins (Rom. 6:23)
God’s great love for us motivated Him to provide a solution to our human condition of sin (Rom. 5:8)
Romans 10:8-10, 13, But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, and be saved from my sins.
While salvation certainly speaks of individual deliverance from our sins, it also speaks of the “safeguarding of God’s entire redemptive program” [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 342]
Salvation is the foundation for God’s glory and power, which are manifestations of His salvation
This is God’s majesty revealed through His redemptive plan
God is recognized as the King of kings and Lord of lords – worthy of our praise
This is God’s omnipotence at work
He is all-powerful – nothing is too hard for Him
Judgments are true and just
How many of us are aware of an individual who was convicted of a crime that they were later exonerated of? [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 341]
Some investigator finds new evidence that proves that the person in jail is innocent of the crime that are serving time for
Most of the time these individuals are found guilty due to errors in human judgment
Sometimes human judges give in to bribery or allow their own personal motives and convictions to cloud their judgment
PRINCIPLE – God’s judgments are valid and fair.
Fortunately, God is not like human judges or juries
“God’s justice is ‘true’ because it is based on his own covenant faithfulness and ‘just’ because it is based on his holy character. In other words, his judgments are both morally true and legally just.” [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 664]
So, we don’t have to worry that God’s condemnation of the great prostitute and His avenging the blood of his servants is done maliciously
Condemnation of sin and evil
The reason for His condemnation of the great prostitute is based on her corruption of the earth through her adulteries
This has been developed in great detail in chapter 18 (it was the pursuit of wealth, sexual immorality, and religious influence that took the place of God)
God is grieved when we sin, but He is especially grieved when we lead others to sin alongside us
Read Romans 1:28-32
Matthew 18:5-6, “And whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Avenging the blood of His people
PRINCIPLE – God keeps His promises to His people.
We can praise the Lord, because He always keeps His promises
When the fifth seal was opened, John saw the souls of those who had been martyred under the altar (Rev. 6:9)
They were asking the Lord when He was going to judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge their blood (Rev. 6:10)
The Lord’s answer, was for them to wait a little while longer
We see now that He kept His promise to them
He did avenge their blood
God’s judgment is final
Because God’s judgments are true and just (valid and fair) there is no chance for reversal
His judgments will be complete and final
“Because God lives “for ever and ever” (15:7), his righteous condemnation must also endure forever.” [Easley, 347]
The great multitude in heaven is praising the Lord for His complete and final judgment of the wicked
As the first group completes their praise, we see the second group agreeing with them
Elders and living creatures (v. 4)
The 24 elders and the four living creatures fall down and worship God
We see that God is still on His throne
This is the final time that the 24 elders and the four living creatures are mentioned in John’s vision
It is short, only two words
It means “so be it”
They are agreeing with the praise of the great multitude in heaven about God’s salvation, glory, power, judgments, condemnation, and avenging
Hallelujah – “Praise the Lord!”
They don’t need to add anything else to what has already been said
The final group is called on to praise the Lord
Believers on earth (v. 5)
John hears a voice from the throne
Some scholars believe it is God or Jesus speaking, but what is being said seems to eliminate these two options
It seems as though the command or encouragement is coming from another source other than God or Jesus
Other scholars believe it could be one of the living creatures or one of the 24 elders
We are not told who the voice is, which is alright, because the content of what they are saying is of greater value
Praise our God
The command to praise our God leads us to believe that the voice is someone other than God or Jesus
They are including themselves in the command to praise
Who are these individuals who are supposed to praise our God?
First, they are identified as all you his servants
Revelation 1:1, The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.
To be a servant (bond slave) of the Lord means that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
Second, they are identified as you who fear him, both great and small
The same Greek verb translated as “fear him” is used in Rev. 11:18, but is translated as “reverence your name”
That is what is being communicated here, the believers on earth who reverence the name of the Lord are to praise Him
It doesn’t matter what their socio-economic status is or their level of spiritual maturity [Mounce, 343]
Every believer is commanded to praise the Lord
As a servant of God it is imperative that you praise Him
You can praise Him for you salvation
You can praise Him for His glory displayed in His creation
You can praise Him for His power that is evidenced in your life
You can praise Him for His judgments that are valid and fair
You can praise Him for who He is and what He has done in your life
When was the last time you stopped and reflected on God’s attributes and His mighty works in your life?
Perhaps you can take time this afternoon to make a list and then praise the Lord
My Next Step Today Is To: Make a list of God’s attributes and the great things He has done in my life and then praise Him!
Our praise can take many forms [show the cartoon about Dexter]
We have the opportunity this morning to praise the Lord through song
We’ll be singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” in just a moment as our closing song
We can reflect on who God is and what He has done for us as we sing that song
“Christians have joyful, stirring songs that celebrate the wonder of our relation with God. This is especially true during the Christmas season with songs such as the spine-tingling Handel’s Messiah. In contrast to this, in 2011 comedian Steve Martin performed a song on The Late Show with David Letterman that he called “the entire atheist hymnal” (on one page of paper). He called it: “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.”
Christians have their hymns and pages,
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews,
Baptists have the rock of ages,
Atheists just sing the blues.
Romantics play Claire de Lune,
Born agains sing “He is risen,”
But no one ever wrote a tune,
For godless existentialism.
For Atheists there’s no good news.
They’ll never sing a song of faith.
In their songs they have one rule:
The “he” is always lowercase.
Of course, his humor is meant to entertain us—and does. But what a contrast to a piece of music that moves hearts and masses across the board. Handel’s Messiah is arguably one of the most mellifluous [pleasant to the ear] expressions of Christian doctrine ever produced.
In fact, I think it makes all the sense in the world that both inexplicable tears and profound joy accompany the words and sounds of Handel’s Messiah. For this Messiah brings with him an invitation unlike any other: Come and see the Father, the Creator, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Come and see the Light, and the Overcomer of darkness, the One who wept at the grave of a friend, and the one who collects our tears in his bottle even before he will dry every eye. Christians, let’s sing our songs!”
[Jill Carattini, “Random Hallelujahs,” RZIM: A Slice of Infinity (12-16-16)]