Why We Cry Hallelujah—Ephesians 3:20-21 & Revelation 19:1-9
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. E 3:20-21
We Cry Hallelujah (Praise Jehovah) Because:
— God [SAVES] Us From The Power Evil!
1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants. Verses 1-2
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him. Psalms 37:39-40
— God [JUDGES] Evil With Eternal Vengeance!
Once more they cried, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” Verse 3
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering—6Indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7,8,9 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thess 1:5-6, 9-10
— Jesus [COMMANDS] All His Servants To Praise Our God.
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice crying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. Verses 4-5
11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” Hebrews 2:11-13
— God [REIGNS] Through Our Marriage To Jesus In Good Deeds.
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 thunder peals, crying, “Hallelujah! 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; 8 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Verses 6-8
YOUR INVITATION TO BE A PART OF THE BRIDE
9 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 true words of God.” Verses 9
Good morning to every one. Before I go to the lesson I want to thank all of our sisters who helped this past Monday at Brother Price’s funeral. You made me so proud of you and of Vaughn Hill. Thank you for those good works. And thank you Doris for taking charge and organizing it all.
The apostle Paul in a prayer of praise to God says, “20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Paul envisions a breath and depth of God’s power in his prayer which is stunning. Every time I read these verses I come away with a deepening sense of how grand and great is God. Yet I never seem to fully grasp the total meaning of these words, because God is far more powerful, and he does far more than I can comprehend. That is why Paul says glory is given to God in the church throughout every generation, and it even goes farther too when eternity is the only reality. We are forever and ever to glorify God in the church. The chef work of the church is to praise God, because God is her power and we have received more power and blessingthat we can ever imagine.
The Hebrew language has a word which expresses the sublime glory and praise God richly deserves from his church. This word does not appear in the English translations of the O.T. because it is simply translated “Praise to the LORD”. This Hebrew word only appears in the last third of the Book of Psalms, and in no other place in the O.T. The word is a compound word formed from the Hebrew Hallel which means Praise to, and other word Ja_h which is the personal name of God. It is the name God revealed to Moses as the I Am. God personal name appears in some form over 6000 times in the Hebrew Bible. And in most cases the English Bible translates it simply with the word LORD. We have no idea how to pronounce it, because the Hebrew scribes never put vowels in it when they wrote it. Hence the use of the word LORD in most modern translations.
The word I’m speaking of is Hallelujah. And it is a sublime word meaning to glorify, praise, and exalt the One who is self existent and eternal having no beginning or end. The only place it is used as a single word in the whole English Bible is in the book of Revelation. When John wrote Revelation he made the Hebrew word into a Greek word. And he uses this Hebrew word four times in chapter 19.
Our N.T. book of Revelation is a hymn of praise and glory to God for his power and mighty works. It is set in heaven’s temple where worship and praise are continually expressed. It is not as many imagine a fantastic preview of the end of the physical world. Actually it is a hymn for the present to worship and praise God for what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do forever and ever. I have counted in the opening words and in its closing words at least ten time statements that the historical events it predicts would take place soon after its writing. And Revelation teaches that those historical events establish for all time, through out space, matter, and eternity the written truth that God acts and saves his church forever. Those events are the assurance that God will do for us what he did for them.
The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of the O.T. prophets and their inspired visions from God how his people are established in his kingdom that lasts forever. And in this book of eternal praise and glory God shows or reveals to us his final steps of establishing his eternal rule over all of mankind. God pictures for his people the defeat of evil and the victory of His Son. And at the core of the book is worship in and at heaven’s throne. We are transported by John’s visions to see God’s power, not only in the first century over his enemies, but for all time and eternity.
This book continues to encourage us with the realization that Jesus rules our world from his all powerful throne. God declares in Holy Scripture and in those recorded Divine Acts that we belong to an eternal age and kingdom. And that all evil, and sin, and disobedience are subject to his Son wrath and judgments forever. The Book of Revelation in the strongest terms pictures for us God’s eternal grace and salvation. It tells us why we cry Hallelujah. And the ten verses we will consider this morning give us the essence of it application to our life in the 21st century. And that application is to praise and glorify God for his mighty deeds he does in our world, and time, and history.
The first Hallelujah occurs in verses one and two. We cry hallelujah because God saves us from the power of evil. John writes, “1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
We tend to have a limited comprehension of salvation. We see it only as forgiveness of our personal sins like lying or cheating. We rarely consider that evil has a source from which it draws its power which has a face and physical presence. Jesus says it comes from Satan the father of lies himself. We live in a relatively safe comfortable nation and rarely come into contact with Satan’s true face of evil, or experience its physical presence. God has protected and blessed us greatly in the last fifty years. But I guarantee you if would have went through a Nazi death camp in 1945 you would have seen Satan’s face of evil in a physical form.
The face of true evil in the 1st century is pictured as a harlot or prostitute. In the Book of Revelation she is in an immoral relationship with the sea beast to persecute and destroy God’s kingdom. She is drunk in an immoral frenzy of blood and of the murders of God’s prophets, saints, and Jewish Christians who serve the Lamb faithfully. This harlot is rich beyond our wildest dreams, because millions of Jews have sent their tithes to Jerusalem for hundreds of years. She is decked out in purple and scarlet with pearls and gold and fine gems. Her rich are very rich from defrauding the sweat of poor people.
And in her hand she holds a golden cup filled with the blood of 1st Century Christians, and O.T. saints. Her high priests the Sadducees and her kings the Herod’s are all Roman clients and patrons. She commits spiritual fornication with Rome and this sin reaches it most awful in the death of Jesus. She commits adultery with Rome in an unholy relationship that murders the Son of God. This Harlot proclaims not God as her king but Caesar.
For forty years through the Roman and Jewish world the great Harlot pursued God’s people with blasphemy, imprisonment, torture, and death. When you study the book of Acts and the epistles you will see this laid out for you. The horrendous persecution reaches it crescendo in another act of spiritual fornication, because in the years 64-66 ad with her willing consent Nero institutes three and ½ years of mass executions, imprisonments and tortures of Christians. Here the Beast and the Harlot come together in an unholy alliance of true evil.
The tribulation is satanically inspired through the physical presences of Jerusalem and Rome. But God saves his people from the Harlot who is the Jewish religious authorities and Herod the Great’s dynasty. He also saved his church from the Harlot’s bestial lover Rome in history and in eternity. He destroyed the Harlot’s finery and burned her city with fire, and today ancient Rome lies in ruins for the tourists. God does the same thing to all the faces of Satan’s evil and whatever form they take until the end of time.
The Psalmist cries, “39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” Salvation is forgiveness of sins, but it is also being saved from the forces of evil that would have us deny our Great King Jesus. We cry Hallelujah because there is no power on earth greater than Jesus. We cry Hallelujah because there is no glory more bright than our Savior. He delivers us from the wicked and times of trouble because we take refuge under his altar the cross. Can you imagine what our world would be like if Jesus did not save and protect those made righteous by his blood and grace? The world is a bad place full of sin, and without the power of God to restrain and save us from it we would never know the joy, freedom or peace. This world would be a place of total ruin and death.
The next time you are faced with evil remember God’s power is greater. Satan will continue to put a face on his evil. He will create more harlots and beasts to stand against God’s people. He will try to frighten you. He will try to intimidate you. He will try to force you to compromise with evil. He may even kill you. But you don’t have too submit to any evil or any of its physical forms. You have salvation from your sins and salvation from Satan cruel forces. Stand tall and proclaim Jesus. Take up the sword of the spirit, and the armor of light and you are victorious. Victory is not saving your physical life nor a problem free existence. The Bible says your victory is your faith. Remember your baptism. You’ve already given up your physical life in the death of Jesus. Cry Hallelujah because you belong to a kingdom that never ends and cannot be destroyed.
Next we have come to believe that all vengeance is bad. That seeking justice is somehow unchristian. But all of us have within our hearts the need to see evil men get their just rewards. The problem with vengeance is human limitation and fraility. We simply are unable to be perfect judges. That is why we can cry Hallelujah because God judges evil with eternal vengeance. John writes, “Once more they cried, Hallelujah! The smoke of her goes up for ever and ever.” The multitude rejoiced at the eternal judgment of the great Harlot.
In Chapter six of the Book of Revelation we find the souls of those murdered for the word of God under the altar of Heaven. The heavenly altar is a metaphor for the cross. Those souls are Old Covenants saints who are crying for vengeance on their persecutor and murderer the great Harlot. They are told to wait for vengeance until the full number of their brethren the church is killed. God does not condemn them because they desire justice and the cross does not mean we lose that desire. The cross only become inapplicable when all hope of repentance is gone. Under the cross forgiveness and grace are extended even to men like Saul of Tarsus. That is why Paul teaches we overcome evil with good and in doing this we leave vengeance to God as he heaps coals of fire upon the heads of our enemies. That is what happened then and what happens now.
Vengeance is the action retribution. God in his wisdom has left that action in two places. First he left it in the hands of government. He uses that apparatus of the state to bear the sword against evil men in this life. Eye for an eye in the O.T. did not mean if I pluck your eye you get to pluck out mine. It meant leave vengeance to the judges God established under his authority. This is not the perfect system of justice because human judges can be bribed and corrupted. So God reserved the right to ultimately judge every life because He is incorruptible. He brings retribution in this world and in the next that is true and just and eternal. The Hebrew writer tells us it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Why is that, because God is a consuming fire of wrath on those who are evil.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians and says, “5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering—6Indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7,8,9 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” God has called us to suffer at the hands of unjust men who afflict us. And the reason we are told to leave vengeance God is because that act of grace on our part makes us worthy of his eternal kingdom.
Clearly from this passage we see that God does not let evil men go unnoticed or unpunished for their deeds. God finds it just to repay those who afflict his children with the punishment of eternal damnation and exclusion from his presence. His second coming is the guarantee that evil will receive its just retribution from God. We are not the Lord God, and therefore we learn his patience hoping that each person will come to repentance. But if they don’t then God is exactly the right one to make things right and to balance the scales of justice with those who belong to the present day harlots and beasts.
We never lose a thing by allowing God to do his work. If you are suffering at the hands of someone who is evil towards you then rest assured God will call them to account. You may be suffering at the hands of an unjust spouse. Or maybe some evil person at work or school afflicts you with ridicule and you want to strike back in kind. Insult for insult becomes the temptation that you easily fall into. Don’t do it. Face the evil with goodness and kindness, and the person who is afflicting you, will find hell getting hotter and hotter. God heaps coals of fire upon evil men and women who afflict God’s children. That fiery coal pile does not start to heap up in eternity. No it begins in this life with their misery and separation from love and goodness.
I’ve never seen a happy self centered person nor have you. They endure a living hell before they ever stand in God’s presence. If you love God then pity your enemy, because it is the only way to save him and get justice for yourself. Love him so that he may be blessed and avoid an eternity of utter darkness and misery. God is not slow about retribution. He is perfect in the way he counts time and never wants anyone to be lost. But we can cry hallelujah as we wait and know He will make perfect judgments for our pain and hurt in this life. It is a great reason to praise and glorify God in his church.
The next Hallelujah is a command. We cry Hallelujah because Jesus commands all his servants to praise God. John reports, “4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice crying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” When God brings his judgment and vengeance on the Harlot this excites a spontaneous worship of the 24 elders and the Seraphim. The 24 elders represent both Israel’s 12 patriarchs and the churches 12 apostles. They have all been crowned with life and victory, and they sit in God’s presence as the holy amen counsel. All of God’s people have representation in Heaven’s throne, as well as God’s created angelic servants. The Seraphim continually proclaim the Holiness of God. They cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God.
The elders and these angels are in the temple of God to worship and adore him. But there is another worshipping God. He is leading the heavenly beings and the church in joyful praise to God. He speaks from the very throne of heaven itself to all God’s servants on earth and in heaven. And His voice commands us to join in this great hallelujah of praise and devotion. The voice can only come from Jesus. He is the one who speaks and commands from the throne of God. No one else is worthy to lead God’s church in divine worship. If you see Todd as the worship leader you are missing the true worship leader. If you see me as the preacher then you are missing the one who speaks to you from heaven.
Hebrews says, “11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” Jesus sets us apart because of our relationship to him. Jesus and his church have a common Father and he recognizes this by calling us his brothers and sisters. In Revelation 19 he demands the servants of God to praise his and their Father. He is unashamed to proclaim in the midst of the church his family the name of God. His faith at Calvary causes him to bring all God’s family with him into heavens throne room to worship.
He leads us by singing praises to God in our songs, eating with us at his table, delivering our prayers, empowering the preached word, and making the gifts we offer holy. What is happening here this morning goes far beyond Vaughn Hill or any petty aggravation you have with the songs, prayers, or preaching. All that we have done this morning has transcended into eternity by the power of Jesus. who delivers to God all the glory and praise and Hallelujah’s we offer. The Psalmist said God dwells in our praises. What a wonderful thought. In the spirit we are carried by Jesus at his command to heaven every day, every Lord’s Day, and with every heart beat.
So we cry Hallelujah because God saves us from evil. We cry Hallelujah because God judges evil. We cry Hallelujah because Jesus commands us to do so. And finally we cry hallelujah because God reigns through our marriage to Jesus in good deeds. The multitude or the universal Assembly of Jews, Gentiles, and Angelic hosts cry Hallelujah, and it sounds like rushing waters or a mighty rolling thunderstorm. John describes it like this, “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 thunder peals, crying, “Hallelujah! 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; 8 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” The roar of sound is intense and deafening. If you ever sat through a thunderstorm or been to Niagara Falls you will begin to get the idea of this awesome worship we engage in. The reason for all this sound is that God reigns. The Almighty Lord our God continues to be God this very moment. He has never stopped being our God of wonder and miracle.
He gave three temporary gifts to the infant church which have been replaced with his eternal word. We no longer speak in tongues or prophecy in part, or receive partial miraculous knowledge. The reason is the tongues were meant to warn the Harlot of its judgment. The prophecies were meant to be fulfilled to always bless God’s holy people forever. And the miraculous knowledge was to form our New Testament to complete our Bible. My mother took away my pacifier when I was a young boy. She stopped putting a bib on me when I could use a fork. And she treats me as an adult when I sit at her table. I am no longer a child nor am I told what to eat or have my mouth wiped. Nor are we children any more, but are treated as adults in the kingdom of God.
Because God has put up our baby things does not mean he has stopped being our Father. It does not mean that he’s abandoned us. It does not mean that he’s stopped parenting and being our Father. He reigns in all his power and glory. He works to save and bless us. He acts in our lives sometimes like a gentle wispier and other time like a roaring train through our living rooms. He acts to care for us, to protect us, to aide us, and preserve us in this world. He does this because He is our father and Jesus is our husband.
According to John because God reigns he’s given us to his Son to be Jesus’ holy Bride. The multitude is exultant and full of joy at this prospect. Baby girls don’t marry. They may dream, but they have to grow up. Under Jewish custom a young woman’s maturity is seen in how she prepares herself for marriage during her espousal to her future husband. John says that the Lambs Bride made herself ready for this relationship. She did this by being faithful to Jesus while being engaged or espoused to him in the first century.
Paul says in 2 Cor 11 that the church is espoused or betrothed to Christ. During the first forty year the espoused Bride the church was bound to her husband Jesus as she made preparations for her marriage. She got everything ready to join her fiancé on her wedding day. By Jewish custom a Bride was legally bound to her fiancé. Though not fully married, but under the obligation of purity. Her husband could divorce her as Joseph almost did to his espouse bride Mary. Or he could even have her stoned if she proved unfaithful. So she prepared for marriage during the espousal and got herself ready to spend her life with this one man. That is what the church did. The first century church prepared herself to be the wife of Christ on her wedding day.
She prepared by being a new kind of Israel. She prepared by receiving a New Covenant. She prepared by preaching Christ and him crucified. She prepared by demonstrating unselfish crucified love to her members and enemies. She prepared by worshiping God in spirit and the reality or truth of Jesus Christ in offering spiritual sacrifices on a spiritual altar of the cross. She reject carnality and gave her heart to her husband/fiancé She suffered. She bled. She died with Jesus in Baptism to walk in new kind of life. That espousal period of the first generation of Christians forms the basis and foundation of God’s word. That is why we strive for the Christianity or Christ likeness we find in the New Testament.
God granted her the fine linen, bright and pure as her wedding dress. What is that fine linen? It is the righteous deeds of the first Century church bathed in the blood and grace of Jesus Christ. His blood is what makes those deeds white as well as the souls of every member of the Bride. The congregation that meets her in this building does not belong to anyone but Jesus. He is our husband, our brother, our master, our friend you name the relationship and that is what Jesus is to us. The deeds and works are the ones that God gives purified by the blood of Christ. They empowered by the Holy Spirit. They are commanded by God the Father who reigns forever and ever.
You are invited today be a part of the Bride of Christ. She will be forever young and beautiful, and you can share in her indestructible life. You can be transported to heaven’s throne because that is where she serves her husband. And when you die you will simply change you environment not your spiritual location. You have an invitation to come be a part of the Lamb’s Wedding Reception
John writes, “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 true words of God.” This invitation is given to every one of all ages and generations to come to the supper of the Lamb’s wedding? Do you remember your wedding reception? To be honest with you if I could have skipped the ceremony and gone right to our wedding reception it probably would have made me a happy fellow. Now sisters don’t be too offended with me. I liked the ceremony, but I loved the reception. At our reception we got to sit with our friends, family, eat tons of food I didn’t have pay for, tell stories and laugh, undid my tie, loosened my belt, enjoyed music and had fun. Yep the high point for me is the reception.
The problem is that the reception is meaningless without the ceremony. Imagine a bride on her wedding day who likes ceremonies, but loves receptions. So she decides to skip the ceremony, and go directly to the reception. She walks in and says Lets party. You would probably think this bride was a bit loony-toons wouldn’t you. Then what is implied in the invitation to the wedding supper is that there has been a wedding ceremony first. Do yo want to be a part of the bride of Christ. Then you need to come to her marriage ceremony through the cross of Jesus. Paul says Jesus cleansed his bride by the washing of water with the word.
This simply means that every part of the Bride was first immersed into the death of Jesus cleansing blood in baptism in obedience to the word of God. Every part in the 1st century down to the present is cleansed in this continually flowing ceremony of faith. You can’t go to the reception until you experience the ceremony. Will you do that today? Will you be baptized into Christ and put on the fine white linen God has give us? Please come. Please do it. And you will enjoy the reception of grace, mercy, and joy. Come to the supper right now.