HEAVEN'S HALLELUJAH CHORUS based on Rev. 19:1-10
By Pastor Glenn Pease
It is a good thing God enjoys laughter because some of life's funniest moments happen in church. Carolyn Crane tells about how her husband Dan stood up for the final hymn one Sunday, and his foot had gone to sleep; it buckled under him, and he fell sideways into the aisle. Two men came quickly to his aid, and they got him back into the pew on his one good leg. A third man would have helped too, but he was laughing so hard, he was of no use. Dan stood through the closing hymn on one leg, like a stork, or the crane that he was. His wife could tell by the many different versions of the song that people were having a hard time concentrating. But by the end of the hymn things seemed just about back under control. Then the pastor stood up and dismissed the congregation with the benediction--"And now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling...." Even the most solemn and pious could not restrain their laughter.
It may seem like an inappropriate way to end a service, but in the light of Revelation 19, it may not be at all, for hilarity seems to be commonplace in heaven. This chapter is loaded with extreme excitement and exuberance in the very presence of God. The entire population of the redeemed of all time, plus the innumerable angelic host, and every being in the universe capable of making sound, joined in the wildest and loudest display of emotion that we have on record.
The apostle John is an old man as he is having this heavenly vision, but he has no problem hearing the song. He says it was like a roar, and the great multitude was shouting. They were joined by another vast choir who cried out, and then another multitude joined in like a roar of rushing waters, and like loud peals of thunder. One thing is for sure, nobody will ever go to sleep in a heavenly praise service. Thank God we will have new bodies that will not get headaches when the volume reaches thunder levels.
What we have here in Rev.19 is the heartiest, happiest, holiest, heavenliest Hallelujah Chorus of all times. The whole universe of beings is roaring with rejoicing, and shouting with a song of supreme satisfaction, because of the battle of good and evil has been won, and good is the victor. The forces of darkness and evil have been defeated, and the winners are celebrating. They have won the gold in the universal Olympics, and they are compelled to praise God at the top of their voices for this ultimate victory. Thus, we have a song like no other in the entire Bible. This heavenly Hallelujah Chorus stands alone as--
1. The loudest song in the Bible.
2. The most universal song in the Bible.
3. The song most full of Hallelujah in the Bible. Four
times in verses 1-6. This is the only place in the New Testament
where the word is used.
4. It is the happiest song in the Bible, for it celebrates
the victory over evil, and the wedding of Christ and His Bride.
God gave John this vision and that is why we have this record of the heavenly Hallelujah Chorus. The famous earthly Hallelujah Chorus by George Frederic Handel also had it's origin in a God given vision. Handel was in a severe state of depression in 1741. He was 57 years old, deeply in debt, and going nowhere. He began to read a Sacred Oratorio, where the words of Isaiah caught his attention--"Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." He was inspired to compose, and for 24 days he remained in seclusion to write. He sometimes would not eat his food. At times he would jump up and wave his hands in the air shouting Hallelujah. Later he reported, "I think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself."
His Messiah was first performed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742, and it was an immediate success. It circled the globe as one of the musical masterpieces of all times. Newman Flower said, "Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition."
I don't think it is a mere coincidence that the great song on earth and the great song in heaven are both Hallelujah Choruses. Hallelujah means praise the Lord, or praise Jehovah, and it will be a major word in our vocabulary for all eternity. It is the main word in the chorus of The Battle Hymn Of The Republic--"Glory! glory! hallelujah! Glory! glory! hallelujah! Glory! glory! hallelujah! His truth is marching on!" It is the same for the popular revival hymn, Revive Us Again. "Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, Amen! Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again." In other hymns the word is Alleluia, which is just another form of hallelujah. It is found in numerous songs that we sing, and it will be a key word in our praises forever.
It is a feeling word that comes to the lips from a mind and heart filled with joyful gratitude to God. It is a victory shout for the good news that history has a happy ending. The good guys win, and the bad guys are toppled from power. All the rotten deals of history are rectified and made right. Babylon the great has fallen. She represents all the forces of evil in the world that have made life miserable for God's people. Not one in justice will escape. All will be made right. Life is not fair, but God is, and in the end we will praise Him, for we will see everything work out just as it should. As one author said,
"The angels rejoiced here because for centuries they have
been watching from heaven unpunished in justices,
prospering wickedness, triumphing evil, and unchecked
immorality. Meanwhile, the righteous suffer, good causes
go begging, and honor and honesty go unrewarded. Now
the accounts are settled. Every drop of blood shed in
unjustice will be avenged. The scales of eternal justice
will be in perfect balance! God will have settled the score.
When the hosts of heaven see the world system, the
prostitute, gets what is coming to her, they shout with
joy, "Hallelujah!" Author unknown
History ends like most every good book and movie does. The bad guys, who have thrown a monkey wrench into the machinery of life, robbing people of freedom, joy, love, and romance are removed from the stage, so life can go on as God intended, with pleasures forevermore at His right hand.
What an encouragement this chapter was to the Christians going through terrible times of persecution, and what an encouragement to all who get weary of this fallen world with all of its corruption and injustice. There is so much that is rotten and wrong with this world, but in the end we will be singing a victory song--"Hallelujah! for the Lord God Almighty reigns!" We look beyond the present evil to the glorious future, for that is how Jesus faced the cross, and that is how we can face a fallen world.
The world may beat us, the world may bore us,
But in the end we will sing this chorus,
God will judge all that's wrong,
And we will ever sing this song,
History is filled with the sad and the gory.
Heaven will be glad as we give God the glory.
The night of sorrow has passed away.
Its now eternal wedding day.
This Hallelujah Chorus is the song of eternal optimism. It is the foundation for the fight against all injustice and corruption, for it is the guarantee that the fight will end in victory. Light will win over darkness, and so we can sing hallelujah even when darkness seems to dominate, for we know it is only temporary. Caesar will reign for awhile, and Hitler will reign for awhile, but God reigns forever. That is why hail Caesar and Heil Hitler are now obsolete, but Hallelujah to Jesus never will be. This Hallelujah Chorus will always be no. 1 in the hymnal of heaven.
Wars have characterized the reigns of men, but God's reign is one of peace. This Hallelujah Chorus is the celebration of the war that really does end all wars, which is described in detail at the end of the chapter. This chapter of the Bible is the audio-visual dept. of the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It gives us the message both verbally and visually of the final victory.
Our ears are bombarded with sounds.
Our eyes are bombarded with sights.
Both the vocal and visual abounds,
To lift our feelings to the heights.
The powerful image of Jesus riding on a white horse to victory over the forces of evil is praise visualized. The Hallelujah Chorus vocalizes the victory, and the horse and rider visualize it. The whole point of the book of Revelation is to appeal to the emotions and the imagination, and fill Christians with a spirit of praise. Revelation is to the New Testament what the Psalms are to the Old Testament. It is a book of poetry and imagery, to give Christians, even in the toughest of times, reasons for rejoicing. Do you need motivation to sing songs in the night? Here is your resource for inspiration. This is not a manual of technical information, but a work of art, designed to inspire us to worship and to service. You can take a flower apart and learn something of its structure, or you can gaze on its beauty and praise the God who created such a work of art. Their is value in both, but often Christians are more interested in tearing the book of Revelation apart, than in being moved by its message of hope and beauty, to praise the God who will give us the final victory.
What good is it to know the meaning of the 144,000, the ten horns of the beast, the number 666, and a host of other numbers, if you miss the number one purpose of the book, which is to get you to praise God and sing hallelujah? All you can learn about the book of Revelation is not worth a lady finger firecracker if it does not lead you to praise. Most all commentators are agreed, all of the visions of the book are conveying the same basic message--praise God for He is on the throne, and His will be the final word. History will ultimately be His Story, and it will have a gloriously happy ending.
There is an amazing congregation of women who really believe this, and their motto is Amen! Alleluia! They are all handicapped, blind, deaf, and crippled, but they say Amen-so be it. We accept our lot in life, though it is unfair, not grudgingly, but in loyal submission to our King. We say praise the Lord, or alleluia because we expect Him to work in all things for the good of those who love Him. All self-pity is ruled out, and their focus is on praise. They may not know who the anti-Christ is, but they know who Christ is, and they have grasped the essence of the message of Revelation, for their song is ever Amen, Alleluia!
This passage makes it clear, it is not just the chief end of man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, it is also the chief end of angels and animals and all of creation. The angels were the first to see evil when they saw the fall of Lucifer and his angels. Then man followed in his fall, and then the whole of creation had to suffer the effects of sin. God will reverse all of this, and all that was touched by sin will be restored to original perfection. That is why the Hallelujah Chorus of heaven is so universal. All will glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
In verse 4 we see the 24 elders and the four living creatures which represent all the redeemed of all ages, and all the living creatures of God's creation falling down and worshiping. The worshiped in praise, and what we need to see is, worship and praise are synonymous. They have the same root meaning.
Worship comes from worthship and means full of worth. When you worship God you are acknowledging Him as the ultimate worth or value in your life. People do not worship the worthless. All that people worship they consider to be of the utmost worth. Whatever has the highest value to a person is their god. In worship we declare the worth of who, or what, we worship.
Praise comes the Latin, pretiare--to prize. To prize something is to value it highly, and treasure it's worth. Thus, to praise God or to worship God means the same thing. It is to acknowledge, declare, and rejoice in His worth. Your whole value system is revealed in who or what you praise. That is why Hallelujah is the highest word in worship and praise, for it means praise Jehovah. There is no higher value, and no person of worth, that is above Jehovah. Praise the Lord is the English translation of hallelujah, and, therefore, the ultimate phrase of praise.
To acknowledge anyone or anything, beside God, as having ultimate worth, is idolatry. John the apostle is pictured as blowing it in verse 10 to make it clear for all time, that nothing less than God is to be worshipped. Not even the angel who reveals the most amazing scenes ever before revealed. John fell at the angels feet to worship, but was instantly rebuked. The angel said he was just a fellow servant. He may have been endowed by God with gifts beyond anything John could ever dream of, but he was just a servant of God. He said to John, "Worhip God!"
What a powerful lesson on the whole matter of superstars. The world is full of people who can do things the rest of us cannot do. They can sing, act, play sports, or do other things that amaze us. We feel the tug toward hero worship, and we want to fall before them and adore their gifts. They have a hard time being honest like the angel. They do not say I am but a servant of God, worship Him. They say keep on bowing and keep on giving me money and honor.
Every example of hero worship in the New Testament is rejected. In Acts 10:25-26 we read, "As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. Stand up, he said, I am only a man." A gifted man to be sure, and the one God used to bring Cornelius into the kingdom, but Peter rejected hero worship and pointed Cornelius to Christ, who alone is worthy of worship. In Acts 14:11-18 we read of how the people of Lystra were so impressed with Paul, they shouted the gods have come down to us, and they began to worship Paul and Barnabas. But they tore their clothes and Paul said in verse 15, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God." These two plus the two times John is rebuked for trying to worship the angel, make it clear, God alone has the exclusive right to be worshiped.
All the focus on exalting personalities is a very worldly practice. The church is not to conform to the world in this matter, but it often does. We forget that the gifts are from God, and we begin to worship the person with the gifts, rather than the source of the gifts. The church has it's cult of celebrities just as Hollywood does, and Christians debate who is the biggest, brightest, or most beautiful. This is not all bad, for there needs to be Christians on every level of society to witness to the lost on that level. But there is risk. The risk is that the celebrity will develop the Lucifer syndrome, and begin to feel worthy of worship. The risk for the hero worshipper is that they will forget to acknowledge God as the giver of the value they receive through the celebrity.
The Bible has the answer to both of these risks in one word--Hallelujah! Whenever you feel the emotion of gratitude for any value in life, don't stop short of the highest, but go right to the top, and praise the Lord. This does not mean you do not thank the servant who was the channel of God's blessing. You do! But you praise God as the source of that blessing. If we could be practicing this one hundred percent, we would be singing hallelujah all day long. I think this is what Paul meant when he said, "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." He is saying, everything of worth that happens to you is to move you to praise the Lord. May God help us in our daily walk to be more conscious of God's blessings, and thus, be ever joining with the choir of heaven in singing the Hallelujah Chorus.