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Get ready to join heaven’s song. Listen to some – or all! – of Elevation Worship’s Paradoxology,* or sing the doxology, ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’.

*https://youtu.be/GsrgkyUXnsE

Bible passage

Revelation 19:1–10

Threefold hallelujah over Babylon’s fall

19 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

‘Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
    for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
    who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’

And again they shouted:

‘Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.’

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

‘Amen, Hallelujah!’

Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

‘Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
you who fear him,
    both great and small!’

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

‘Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.’

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.’

Word Live 136

Explore

Chapter 18 ended with a ruined city: dark, unpeopled, silent (18:22–24). Chapter 19 begins with an explosion of praise as heaven obeys the command (18:20) to rejoice in God’s justice (vs 2,3). The destruction of ‘Babylon’, the symbol of human-centred opposition to God, is reason to celebrate.  

The image of smoke (v 3) is not a literal eternal bonfire but a powerful apocalyptic metaphor from Isaiah 34:9,10. The meaning is clear: those who claim the glory and power that belong to God alone (vs 1,2; see also 18:7) will face God’s judgement and never ever rise again. 

Once human-centred rebellion has gone, all God’s people (represented by the 24 elders, all his servants, a great multitude, vs 4,5,6) and creation itself (represented by the four living creatures) are free to worship God as they were originally created to do. They serve God (v 5), live under his rule (v 6) and worship him alone (v 10). But God has more in store!

He desires an intimate, committed relationship with his people (vs 7,8). He takes us, ragged Cinderella servants, and dresses us in the righteousness of Christ (see Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 1:22) so that we can be united in love with him for ever.

Author
Penny Boshoff

Respond

The church is Christ’s bride. Let us rejoice, be glad and give him glory!

Deeper Bible study

‘... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’1

This section starting at 17:1 depicting the fall of Babylon – for John, this is Rome, but portrayed as the archetype of exploitative human empires through history – ends with a cascade of praise. The previous threefold ‘woe’ contrasts with threefold ‘rejoicing’ here. The central anthem comes from the elders and living creatures we met in chapter 4, but on either side we hear from ‘a great multitude’ (vs 1,6), not only of the myriad angels but also the redeemed, whom no one can count.2 They now sound like ‘the roar of rushing waters’ and ‘loud peals of thunder’ – the first of which may be compared to the voice of God.3 It seems as though the people of God are in harmony not only with the creation of God but also with the voice of God in the presence of God. 

It is commonly said that praise is the language of heaven and that the worship we practise now is a rehearsal for spending eternity with God, but there are no hymns of praise in the next vision, of the new Jerusalem; this is the last hymn-like material in the book. Praise is not simply for what God has done or what he is doing, but for what he is going to do when his justice is fully revealed at the end. The praise here, though expressed in the past tense since in the narrative it follows the account of Babylon’s fall, is for John’s readers still anticipating something in the future. 

Even John, though, after his extraordinary visions and privileged access to the presence of God, is still liable to error and sin, and has to be rebuked by the angel. We need to praise God, to remember where we are heading, even as we continue on the journey.

In what aspect of your life and faith have you seen growth and maturity? Where do you still need help? How does praise assist in that growth?

1Phil 1:6  2Rev 7:9  3Ezek 1:24

Author
Ian Paul

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year: 1 Kings 10,11; 1 Corinthians 13

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