Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 19:1–4

Revelation 19:1–4
After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!”
3 Then a second time the crowd shouted, “Hallelujah!” The smoke rises from her forever and ever. 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures threw themselves to the ground and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne, saying: Amen! Hallelujah!”
(NET Bible)

God’s judgment stands — an eternal memorial

Many of us do not choose to attend sad movies; others screen out blood and horror. We do not go into the rough part of town, and we would not watch what police have to do — except for the sanitized version on TV.

When you think about it, we are absolute masters at shutting out what we do not want to know! Perhaps that is why we have reflected little on the judgment God will carry out. Is that wise?

“Hallelujah” means praise the Lord.[1] So, when you repeat “Hallelujah” — also spelled alleluia — in song lyrics, you are saying “Praise the Lord!” several times. That is a great thing to say, but it is wise to know what you are saying to God! He does not tend to favor idle words (Matt. 6:7).

Sometimes we find curious differences between the practices of American churches and those in the New Testament. Even though alleluia is often heard in our churches, the corresponding Greek word occurs just four times in the NT (19:1, 3, 4, 6). Perhaps more significant is that the praise is offered because God has unleashed his judgment against the sexual immorality, seductive materialism of Babylon (19:2) and the murder of the saints. Our use of alleluia is never about judgment; perhaps we do not want to think about it!

Keener makes some critical points about God’s judgment:

His compassion is one reason God delays judgment and enacts it sparingly, but in the broader scope of history the judgments are necessary for repentance of some and vindication of others. . . . In this world God does not settle all scores in the short run, but his justice is always satisfied in the end. Even repentance does not allow sins to escape justice — for the scores of the repentant were settled in advance on the cross.[2]

Justice will be done

Popular media sometimes take the form of a charade. Since it has become unfashionable to talk about God in the public square, TV programming often portrays those who want justice but despair of ever getting any. To make this dramatic tension work, it is necessary to completely ignore the fact that every person will face God’s judgment. The fact that Babylon will be obliterated sends a message to those who take part in it.

Peter tells us: “It is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d ed. Revised and edited by F. W. Danker, translated by W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000) hall?luyah, praise Yahweh, q.v. The Greek word hall?luyah is a transliteration — not a translation — of the Hebrew phrase halelu yah; both mean “praise Yahweh.” Hall?lujah is an alternate spelling.

[2] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 459.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!