Let’s face it – the languages of the world are quite something. I am fascinated by it and especially the history thereof. There are so many; so complicated and there are people so talented to conquer cultures, one word at a time. A language is the eye of insight into a nation, the explanation of the soul of the people.
A few decades ago – I know I am seriously dating myself now – Coke had a catchy jingle for their television advertisement. Well, it’s not that long ago, at least television already existed!! They had people from different ethnic groups stand together and sing: I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. I can remember my feeling as I listened to the song. It felt as if that was exactly what the world needed and if it could be accomplished, it would be the most wonderful thing. I feel the same as I read the chorus of Revelation 19.
The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is indeed one of the strange stories of the Bible. The people of the earth come together after the flood and plan a tower. The chapter states that they had one language and one speech. They want to build something magnificent – isn’t that good? Still, the unity that comes by language would have enabled amazing power. God Himself said that nothing would be impossible for them. He confuses the speech at Babel and the people scatter to fill the earth as He originally intended they should do after the flood.
Centuries later a miracle of speech unites a people for whom nothing would be impossible. On the day of Pentecost, God uses language to establish His church and give those converts the power that comes from unity. The gift of tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to be allocated by Him as needed (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
That is our “church of Christ”- language, but what about the languages of this world, so difficult to overcome. Over many centuries, even before television and digital media revolutionized global communications, some words were recognizable in any language up to this very day.
The word Hallelujah is well known to the simplest person and well established in every language, with some slight variations. The nineteenth chapter of Revelation starts with the singing of a praise song of immense proportions. God’s judgment, describe in the previous chapters, brings joy to us. There is rejoicing in avenging. The multitudes mentioned are made up of the angels (7:9) and the martyrs (5:11). Here everyone comes together in a mighty choir to sing the psalms of praise to the Most High.
Halal means praise and Jah means Jahweh. It is the first phrase in many Psalms. Psalm 118 is called the Hallel. Every Jew would know it.
They sing about salvation, glory and power. In contrast to the Beast, God brings the miraculous outcome. Salvation brings gratitude, glory brings reverence and power brings a realization of love and therefore trust. These are the elements of real praise.
Sin has to be judged. In the words of T.S. Kepler:
The moral law can no more be broken than the law of gravity; it can only be illustrated.
Judgment is true and just and perfect because:
- God alone knows all, also the inner being of man.
- He is pure and judges without prejudice.
- He is wise and judges right with power to apply it.
God never abandons His own. The praise comes from the church, the 24 elders, (19:3-5) by a universal summons.
These words remind us of Isaiah 34:9-10, where the judgment over Edom is declared. Smoke rises forever. The judgment is complete. The Church and nature come together in praise.
The servants are the prophets (10:7, 11:18 & 22:6) and the martyrs (7:3, 19:2) are part of this outburst of jubilation. The small and the great (19:5) are the Christians of all intellectual capacities and social grades, and of all stages of progress in the life of Christ. The wonderful feast of praise is inclusive and welcoming, as everything in the Gospel.
Praise rises up from the redeemed (19:6-8). According to Ephesians 3:10, the church makes known the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. It is the purpose of the church in the unseen.
The sound is like a vast multitude, many waters and the roar of thunder. It cannot be ignored. It might be frightening to many, but it is welcoming to the participants. The sound of praise overpowers all other sound in the universe. It is the “sound” of miracles. We recognize and acknowledge the sound. Remember the old song:
I hear the voice of the Supernatural singing
Like only those who know Him can
In Matthew 5:12, Jesus uses the two words chairein and agalian that mean rejoice and be exceedingly glad. We have already talked about the custom of repetition in the Hebrew language, to emphasize and facilitate memorization.
The marriage of the Lamb (19:7) denotes the intimate and indissoluble communion of Christ with the community, which He has purchased with his own blood.
Marriage as a high and respected, unbroken relationship, is a dynamic principle of the kingdom of God and a theme throughout the Bible. The prophet Hosea’s life is lived as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people. In Hosea 2:19-20 God promises his faithful and everlasting relationship with His people.
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord.
He declares through His prophet Isaiah that our Maker is our husband (Isaiah 54:5). Ezekiel 16:1-63 explains a wonderful course of action by God, reaching out in relationship. It is magnificent in detail to establish hope and encourage our full confidence in the abiding love of God.
The almighty God (19: 6-8) is described as pantokrator, which implies that He has control all things. This phrase is common in Revelation and only used once in another spot in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:18). God is omnipotent and whatever life brings, in Him we can only win, never fail.
The New Testament is full of references to wedding feasts and God’s particular view on marriage. (Matthew 22:2, 10-11, 25:1, Mark 2:19, John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:21-33.)
One great truth emerges: a loveless marriage is impossible. The intimate communion of marriage to become one flesh is impossible without love. With love is it a joy and delight. Fidelity implies faithfulness and loyalty.
The worship at the Messianic banquet (19:9 -10) echoes with the long tradition and expectation of the Messiah.
And in this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees. (Isaiah 25:6)
Jesus is looking forward to sit down with all the heroes of faith at the wedding feast when he says in Matthew 8:11:
And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
This is the amazing reality of the invisible Kingdom that Jesus came to confirm on earth. Now we can sit down in the presence of the Father through the Cross. (Psalm 23 & Revelation 3:20)
And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
We can never worship the messenger. Worship is for God alone. The angel is only a servant. Angels played an important role in Judaism, but can never replace God or be used as a mediator.
This is how we test the spirit of prophecy. The true prophet will always put Jesus in the centre of all. The prophet cannot speak until he has heard from Christ himself.
The most dramatic moment of this entire book is the entrance of Christ on the white horse.
His names are Faithful and True, the victor. He is described according to the Jewish picture of the warrior Messiah. It was common to see a Roman general riding on a white horse when he celebrated victory.
FAITHFUL means to be trusted fully. TRUE means the source of truth and reality as opposed to an illusion.
There can be no perversion of justice, because He is righteous. There is such a need for that – then and now. He is the ultimate Judge in a heavenly court of law on the works and righteousness of His own Son and not by might on the battlefield. It is a deeper justice than the world could ever marshall. Long ago there was a raging debate in medieval England long before the Magna Carta in 1215. Right is might versus might is right. The world is struggling to make justice fair and true.
His eyes like flames of fire, which depict consuming power and representing omniscience, wisdom and eternity. He is crowned with many crowns, royal as well as victorious (diadema & stephanos).
It was common for a monarch to wear many crowns of the countries conquered. Jesus is Lord of all earthly kingdoms; more than those of the dragon.
His name: Yahweh is so holy, it is not pronounced. Only the consonants spell out His name. Maybe it is a new name that we do not know. God in His fullness cannot be revealed to us until we are ready. His name is powerful and causes miracles when we pray.
Jesus revolutionized prayer when he taught His disciples to call God Father, actually a very warm and familiar “dad”. Jesus gave us His name to pray for anything.
Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. (John 16:23)
There is so much more to God than what we know or could understand in this dispensation. Jesus is the revelation to us of what God is and what we need to know now. That is enough to make every knee bow. (Philippians 2:5-11)
The heavenly Christ is the Slayer, not the Slain One. (Isaiah 63:1-3)
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood (19:13)
Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? (Isaiah 63:1-3)
Some commentators are of the opinion that it is the blood of the enemies of the church. Some say it is His own blood.
His blood was shed for sin. It is over the church. He never takes it back, but it could be symbolic of the blood shed for us.
The rod of iron depicts firmness, not tyranny.
His name is: the Word of God exactly as it is described in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. To a Jew, words are not just a sound, they imply action. Words are a unit of energy charged with power.
An example is the blessing over Jacob from his father Isaac that could not be reversed. It was energy already in action. (Genesis 27). God’s word is a hammer that breaks the rock, says Jeremiah 23:29. God’s words create. Words carry out the commandment of God.
God’s wrath (19:14-16) is a stark contrast to the wedding feast.
The armies of heaven are mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 26:53. He had them as His disposal.
The sword from His mouth is two-edged as expressed in Isaiah 11:4.
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
He himself will trample the grapes of God’s wrath in the winepress of the fierceness of God. Their enemies are drunk on their doom. His name is written on His thigh where it will be visible to all. Hebrew tradition repeats to emphasize.
The doom of the Christ’s enemies (19:17-21) is portrayed in the last verses of the chapter.
The birds are invited to feast on the flesh of the beast and his cohorts. It reminds of the description in Ezekiel 39:17-19 of the slaughter of Gog and Magog.
They will be cast in the lake of fire. It is the consequence of sin and evil. (Revelation 20:14, Daniel 7:11) It is always by man’s own choices that he is condemned. God wills that everybody is saved. The violence of life that sin brings, is hell, even here in this realm.
They are killed by the sword of Christ’s words. Righteous judgment cannot tolerate sin and evil.