Sermon: Hallelujah!: Revelation 19:1-10

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 148

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148, ESV)

Sermon Text: Revelation 19:1-10

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ Once more they cried out, ‘Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.’ Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 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; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ 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 brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’ For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:1–10, ESV)

Introduction 

The thing that differentiates the people of God from those who are of the world is that those who belong to God worship God, whereas those who belong to the world worship the things of this world.

All people worship. Even the most devout atheist worships. The atheist, though he may deny the existence of God, has a god of his own. Someone or something owns his heart. He lives for something. He finds his pleasure and satisfaction somewhere. He has some source of hope. Even the atheist worships as he looks to this thing or that, saying, “this is of ultimate worth.”

The questions is not, “do we worship?”, for all do. Instead the question is, do we worship aright. Do we worship that which is truly worthy of worship? And do we worship that one aright?

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that the book of Revelation is all about worship. When we began the study of this book over a year ago you probably assumed that the book was about the future. What we have found is that, although the book does reveal some things about the future, it is really a book about worship. It reveals what it reveals in order to urge the reader to worship aright – to worship, not the things of this world, but God who made the world, and the Christ, who is the God-man, and our redeemer.

Really, those are our two options. Either we worship the things of this world, or we worship the God who made the world and all things therein. That we will worship is unavoidable! To worship is to be human, and to be human is to worship! The question is, will we rightly worship our Creator, or will we wrongly give worship to something in his creation?

One way for us to talk about the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world is to describe it as worship gone wrong. The first sin, and indeed all sin, can be described as worship misdirected, or worship bent out of shape. To sin is to transgress God’s holy law. And the summary of God’s holy law is to, first, love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and second, to love our neighbor as ourself. Every sin that we commit is committed because we have, in some way, failed to love God supremely and as we should. We have looked to some other thing in God’s creation and have loved it more than God. To sin is, therefore, to fail in worship.

Some worship their possessions. Some worship their entertainment. Some worship their food, others their drink. Some worship other people and the relationships that they have with them. Some worship sex. Some money, power and fame. Some worship demons. And some worship god’s that they have made for themselves, either god’s carved out of wood and stone, or ideas about God that come, not from him, but from themselves, based, not upon divine revelation, but upon human reason.

Those who belong to God worship God as he has revealed himself to us in history, through his Son, and by his word. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV). It is the wholehearted and faithful worship of this God that the book of Revelation is urging. We are to worship this God, the one true God who created the heavens and the earth. He is the God who speaks. He has given us his word. He has graciously disclosed himself to us. We are to worship this God, the one true God, through faith in Jesus the Christ, who, because of our sin and our alienation from God, has been graciously given as the only “mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV).

What do you worship?

Whom do you worship?

To whom or what do you look to and say, “that is of ultimate worth and is worthy of my devotion, my trust, my heart, indeed my very life?”

Notice three things about Revelation 19:1-10.

We Are Seven Times In This Passage Urged To Give Worship To God

First of all, notice how we are seven times in this passage urged to give worship to God.

The word “hallelujah” appears four times in this passage. In verse 1“a great multitude in heaven” is heard by John “crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Revelation 19:1, ESV). In verse 3 they again cry out, saying, “hallelujah!” In verse 4 it is “the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures [who fall] down and [worship] God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’” (Revelation 19:4, ESV). And in verse 6 John again hears the voice of a great multitude “like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns’” (Revelation 19:6, ESV).

The word “hallelujah” here is a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew compound word which means, “praise YHWH”, or, put all in English, “praise the LORD”. So when you say “hallelujah” you are in fact speaking Hebrew. You are urging the praise of YHWH! “Praise the LORD”, is what it means.

It was appropriate for us to read Psalm 148 at the beginning of this sermon for the first and last words of that Psalm are, in Hebrew, “הַ֥לְלוּ יָ֨הּ”. And the throughout the repeated refrain is, “praise the Lord!”

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1–5, ESV)

PsaLm 148 and Revelation 19:1-10 share this in common: both urge the praise of YHWH using the word “hallelujah”.

The praise of God is urged also in Revelation 19:5 where we read, “And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great’” (Revelation 19:5, ESV). Also, we should consider verse 7 where the multitude says, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory…” (Revelation 19:7, ESV). And then seventhly, and lastly, in verse 10 we read John’s words, “Then I fell down at his [the angel’s] feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God” (Revelation 19:10, ESV).

Do you see, then, that the objective of this passage from beginning to end is to urge the worship of the one true God, YHWH, the Creator of heaven and earth, Lord Most High. And do you see how easy it is for our worship to be misdirected. Even John the Apostle, being perhaps overwhelmed with the vision that he saw, did bow down before an angel, bring upon himself a swift and firm rebuke: “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.”

You see God is the only one who is worthy to receive worship. Nothing in all of creation – not even holy and righteous angels – are worthy to receive praise, for they are creatures, and not the Creator. Angels and men, though a different species, share much in common. Both are volitional creatures made for the service of God. Not even they, holy as they may be, are to be worshiped, but God only. So the distinction is not between things holy and things sinful, nor is the distinction between things spiritual and physical, but it is the distinction between Creator and creature that is useful in determining who is worthy to receive worship. It is the Creator only who is worthy to receive worship from his creation.

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1–5, ESV)

If you are alive today you owe God worship for he is your Maker. And to refrain from giving him the worship he so rightly deserves – worse yet, to take the worship that he deserves and to give it another –  is a most terrible thing. I have a hard time finding the words, to be honest.

The comparison that comes to mind is that of a child, who having been brought into this world by his parents, and having been nurtured by them – sheltered, clothed, fed, loved, disciplined and protected – he goes on only to dishonor them. He cares little for them. When he does speak to them, he speaks rudely. He calls only when he wants something. His love he will not give to them, but he will gladly give to those who are unworthy. He responds to his parents love with hatred, but those who have not true love for him, those he loved. The son, having been shown love, responds by spitting in his parents face. There are hardly words to describe just how terrible this is.

But it is far worse for a creature to do this do the Creator. And yet this is what all men do in their natural state and apart from the saving grace of God. They, in one way or another, spit in the face of their Creator. They repay his goodness with hatred, his kindness with contempt, his faithfulness with faithlessness, his patience with stubborn pride.

Friends, if you are a worshipper of God today do not forget that this is how you once were, but God has been merciful to you. He determined from before creation to bring you to himself. And though you were a child of wrath, he has made you a beloved son. This he did through the shed blood of Christ who paid for the sins of his people. This he did by calling you to faith by his word and by his Spirit. When God’s word called out to you to trust in Jesus – when God’s word called put to you saying, hallelujah! Praise the Lord! – you responded to that call with a “yes” and “amen”, not because you were by nature one who was a worshipper of God, but because God has been gracious to you. Seven times in this passage we are urged to give worship to God. It is those predestined, called and justified who have, do, and will.

This Passage Stands In Contrast To The Preceding One

Secondly, notice how this passage stands in contrast to the preceding one.

Chapter 18 and verses 1-10 of chapter 19 share this in common: they both describe responses to the judgement of Babylon.

Remember the way that the earth dwellers responded. They wept and mourned over her. “They threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, ‘Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste’” (Revelation 18:19, ESV).

But even in chapter 18 we heard a call for a different response. In verse 20 we read, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” (Revelation 18:20, ESV).

This is precisely what we have in 19:1-10. Here heaven responds to the call of 18:20 and rejoices, saying, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Revelation 19:1–2, ESV).

The two responses to the judgement of Babylon could not be more different. But this only further shows how different the kingdom of God is from the kingdoms of this world. These two kingdoms stand in stark contrast to one other. The citizens of these kingdoms value entirely different things, so that what causes one to weep and mourn, causes the other to shout for joy and to give glory to God.

Babylon will be destroyed, friends. And if this is where your treasure is, you will be found weeping in the end. But the kingdom of heaven is eternal. God is everlasting and unchanging. If your treasure is stored up with him, in the end there will be rejoicing.

Notice the Reasons Given For The Worship Of God

Thirdly, notice the reasons given for the worship of God.

God will be worshiped in the end for the glory of his righteous judgments.

Verse 1: “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Revelation 19:1–2, ESV).

God will be worshiped in the end for the glory of his salvation.

Verse 6: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 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; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:6–8, ESV)

The bride of Christ is the church.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25–32, ESV).

Christ shed his blood, not for the world, but for his church. He gave himself up for her. He died for his bride, that is to say all of the elect, so that “he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Here in Revelation 19 we have symbolized the consummation of these things where Christ and his bride do enjoy their wedding feast. This will happen at the end of time when the Lord returns for his betrothed and judges her enemies.

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he spoke this way, saying, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2, ESV). When Paul preached the gospel and saw men and women come to faith in Christ he saw them as betrothed to Christ. His objective in teaching the church was to prepare the church for her wedding day, so that he might present the church to Christ as a pure virgin.

Notice that two different perspectives are presented side by side concerning the churches preparation to meet Christ.

First we are told at the end of verse 7 that “his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7, ESV). This emphasizes the responsibility that we have to persevere in the faith, to contribute to our sanctification, and to work our our salvation with fear and trembling.

But to protect us from thinking that we can, in any way save ourselves, or to prepare ourselves for salvation, we are told in verse 8 that “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:8, ESV).

Indeed, we come to faith in Christ because God has granted it. We persevere in Christ because God has granted it. We will be able to stand before God and Christ on that last day “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing”, not because we have provided this clothing for ourselves, but because God has provided for us in Christ Jesus. Indeed we do receive the fogginess of sin and Christ’s righteousness by faith. But has been granted by our God by his grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV).

Conclusion 

Brothers and sisters, what should we do in response to the things that we have heard?

Let us worship God!

Individually

May he have your heart.

Trust in him.

Hope in him.

Find your pleasure in him.

Give him glory with your tongue.

Pray to him.

Give thanks always.

Testify to his goodness.

Obey him in all that you do.

Do not do that which he has forbidden.

Do that which he has commanded.

Have his word as the lamp which illuminates your path and directs your steps.

In Families

Corporately with the Church

Keep the Lord’s Day Sabbath; rest.

Do not neglect the assembling of yourselves.

Engage in the means of grace from the heart.

Let us worship him through faith in Jesus the Christ, for there is no other way.

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