Chapter 18 contains three dirges: “Woe, Woe, Woe,” to lament the fall of the great prostitute. Chapter 19, however, contains four great joyous events, announcing to us that the time has come for everyone to rejoice and celebrate with sounds of acclamation and praise to express our happiness and joy. This is the only place in the Bible where the Greek word “Hallelujah” appears several times. This word is originally a Hebrew word but John transliterated into Greek and so “Hallelujah” is now known all over the world. The phrase, “Give praise to our God” from verse 5 has the same meaning, so in this passage there are five “Hallelujah” words all together.
Why so many “Hallelujah” choruses? Because there were great joyous events happening, and so, the great multitude in heaven were singing “Hallelujah” to celebrate the great events.
1 此後，我聽見好像群眾在天上大聲說：哈利路亞｢( 要讚美耶和華) ，救恩、榮耀、權能，都屬乎我們的神。
1 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Hallelujah (Give praise to our God)! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
It is the day of great joy for our Lord, our King. Here, the great events to praise God confirm that our Lord has accomplished his work. There is no way to know if the policies of the politicians will ever work out or not. You could say that it is a matter of opinion. There is always different opinions.
Today, many Christians have a sad look when they worship God, they are unclear on how to give praises and give thanks to our Lord but on that day, everything will be clear. The sounds of praises will be of delight and will come from the heart.
THE FIRST JOYOUS EVENT: THE SOVEREIGN KING’S QUALIFICATIONS ARE AFFIRMED
2 祂判斷了那用淫行敗壞世界的大淫婦，並且向淫婦討流僕人血的罪，給他們伸冤。｣3 又說：哈利路亞，燒淫婦的煙｢往上冒，直到永永遠遠。｣4 那二十四位長老與四活物，就俯伏敬拜坐寶座的神，說：｢阿們，哈利路亞。｣
2 because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” 3 And a second time they said, “Hallelujah ! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
The people who lived during John’s times would have understood the meaning of these verses. Although the king was not elected by the people, he had to demonstrate his power to them. The first thing to do was to judge a very hard trial case. Like when Solomon became king, he had to judge a case pertaining to the dispute of a child between two women to proof his ability to judge wisely in order to be head of state.
Christ will judge the scum of the earth, which is the prostitute. The one who trampled the banner of Christ, who went against the commands of the Lord and followed the enemy to worship idols, the great harlot, the great city of Babylon. The prostitute was intimate with the beast once, sitting on the it, using the Roman Empire to raise her status. She once used the authority of Rome to murder faithful servants of God, hating and killing the dissidents. That is why it says that, “ He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.”
The great prostitute will not only receive the Lord’s judgment and punishment but she will also be despised by the great empire that once supported her. She would be utterly rejected and that was the pay-back for her corruption as a prostitute.
The prostitute’s punishment will not be temporary, she will be annihilated perpetually. The smoke of her burning will rise forever. If the fire was extinguished, the smoke would cease. She was destroyed forever, the organization would be put to an end, but not the people of God.
After taking care of internal affairs, the outside enemy had to be destroyed which is the beast with seven heads and ten horns, the Persian federation union of ten countries which was dead but came to life. Its head had ten horns which represents a federation of ten political powers. Furthermore, there is the so called “false prophet” Islam leader. Further ahead, we will see that these enemies were defeated. In this chapter, they will be destroyed, proving the power of the King of kings.
2 His judgments are true and righteous.
Nowadays, people seldom see righteous judgment, they often complain that there is no justice. No matter what kind of judgment, there are always people who oppose it and there are others who support it. Like the cover photo of President Bush in Time Magazine, a lipstick kiss on one side of his cheek, and a black eye on the other side of his face, the number of people who support him and oppose him, is well matched. Or the Taiwan corruption case of Chen Shui-Bian, although many people despise him, he still has a large number of supporters who approve of his actions. When the Lord judges, there will not be any disagreement, because the judgement of the Lord is true and righteous and that is what everyone wants to see. Therefore , at that time, everyone will rejoice, praise the Lord and sing hallelujah to Him.
THE SECOND JOYOUS EVENT: THE KING ASCENDS TO THE THRONE
5 有聲音從寶座出來說：神的眾僕人哪，凡敬畏祂的，無論大小，都要讚美我們的神( 哈利路亞) 。6 我聽見好像群眾的聲音，眾水的聲音，大雷的聲音，說：哈利路亞，因為主我們的神，全能者，作王了。
5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
The angel before the throne, who holds the highest position, calls all those who belong to the Lord and all the angels that belong to God to participate in this great ceremony. Blessed are the citizens of the kingdom of heaven, it is a great joyous occasion for them and for all the angels of the Lord. A great and joyous occasion for all those who belong to God in heaven and on the earth.
The “Hallelujah” chorus is one of the greatest masterpieces composed by Handel. Many musicians in New York perform this piece every year and many people go to listen to it, you could even sing along with them. No matter how many hundreds of times you sing or listen to it, you will never be tired of this majestic composition. But the description of the scene here is more magnificent:
6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
The “Hallelujah’s” here are pronounced in unison. There are millions and millions of believers from all eras together praising God. The “voice” of this great multitude is in singular form. There is not a word in this world that can describe this awe -inspiring sound. The “sound of many waters” and the “sound of mighty peals of thunder” cannot fully describe this glorious sound.
The Lord officially became the King of the whole universe. In the past, the influence and teachings of the emperors of the world and the devil had only brought problems to this world. The world teaches us is to be opportunistic, to do less work to earn more money, to spend more resources to promote economic prosperity. Now all the problems are exposed. In the past, there was still some virtues of hard work and loyalty. Now all these are gone and the community is full of deceit, hypocrisy and greed, because the king of the world is in power.
Don’t we often sing “Crown Him with Many Crowns”? That is correct, today His throne is in the sanctuary in heaven. Every week we worship Him from the sanctuary here on earth, celebrating Him as King because His throne was established from the beginning. He doesn’t have to wait until the future to become king. He became our King from the beginning. But He reigns in our hearts and in the sanctuary. Some believers don’t even follow His will. His will to them is like the broadcast of a radio station, some listen to it and others don’t. The issue is not whether God has spoken or not, but whether the people have listened and followed His commands. The Lord said: “He who has an ear, let him hear.”
神為人預備的，是平安喜樂的生活。但因為人｢心裡迷糊｣( 詩95) ，所以不能享受真平安。到那時，和平之君、平安之王，要登基作永遠天國的王，祂要正式統治萬民。那些習慣聽從主命令的人，到時候將會快樂地慶祝這大喜的日子。
God has prepared for mankind a life of peace and joy. But because “they are a people who err in their hearts” (Psalm 95), they cannot enjoy real peace. In the future, the Prince of Peace will be the King of the everlasting Kingdom and will officially rule over everyone. Those who are accustomed to listen to God’s commands will on that special day celebrate with great joy.
THE THIRD JOYOUS EVENT: THE MARRIAGE FEAST OF THE LAMB
7 我們要歡喜快樂，將榮耀歸給祂。因為羔羊婚娶的時候到了，新婦也自己預備好了，8 就蒙恩得穿光明潔白的細麻衣，這細麻衣，就是聖徒所行的義。
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
The third joyous event is the marriage feast of the King. We are happy because it is a joyous event. Before it was a joyous occasion for the citizens of heaven, here it is a joyous occasion for the church, the bridegroom is Christ, the bride is the church.
The wedding ceremony of the Israelites is different from the westerners. In the western weddings, the bride is the protagonist, the bridegroom and the guests await the arrival of the bride and when the bride arrives, everyone stands to greet her. In a Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom is the protagonist, the bride waits for the groom.
Their weddings also have three parts. First, the parent do the arrangements and select the fiancee . Symbolizing the Holy Spirit choosing a fiancee for Christ. Second, the groom sets the wedding day, the fiancee only knows the approximate time, she has to be ready at all times, waiting for the groom to come. The groom will take the bride to his home for the wedding ceremony. Symbolizing Christ coming to take her bride to heaven, which we call the rapture of the church, to meet with the Lord in heaven. Third, a banquet is held at the groom’s home for 7 days, symbolizing the 7 years of great tribulation on the earth and at the same time the seven years of wedding banquet in heaven.
“The marriage of the Lamb has come,” it is the time when Christ will welcome the church. He will come when the church is ready. Thus, “the bride has made herself ready.” Although, the bride does not know the exact time when the groom will come, she has to make herself ready at all times and clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
有人覺得這裡太強調行為，像貶低了基督的恩典。但我們從這裡的經文看清楚，她是｢蒙恩得穿｣was given 是特別給她的，不是由她自己的本領賺到的。基督徒所有的義行，都是聖靈的工作。必須倚靠聖靈的引導，纔得到這潔白光明的衣服。一方面是她白白的領受，另一方面也是她自己準備好、有忠心。所以不單稱義、成聖，也實在有好生活。
Some people feel that the emphasis here is more on people’s actions than on the grace of Christ. But we see from the text here that it was “given” to her, not that she acquired it with her own abilities. All the actions of the Christians are the work of the Holy Spirit. We must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to get this fine linen, bright and clean. On one hand, she received it freely, on the other hand she had to make herself ready and be faithful. So, not only it is necessary to be justified and sanctified, but also to live a good life.
Some people argue saying, Isn’t that “behaviorism”? Aren’t we justified by faith? Do not be confused. Christians must have actions otherwise they would be dead. Those who obey the commands of the Lord are those who truly love God . The grace of Christ can bring new life to a believer; if the believer does not live accordingly, it means that he did not get a new life. To have a new life in Christ is something of great joy.
THE FOURTH JOYOUS EVENT: BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE INVITED
9 天使吩咐我說：｢你要寫上，凡被請赴羔羊之婚筵的有福了。又對我說：｢這是神真實的話. ｣
9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
At the end, there is one last joyous event, using “Blessed” to tell us about it. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” The angel, afraid that John or us would not understand the importance of these events, says: “These are true words of God”. God’s words can be trusted. These are things that will happen for sure, that is why those events have to be written down. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper.
Some people may ask: “Aren’t we the bride? Why do we have to be invited?” If the bridegroom is Christ and the bride is the church then who are the ones invited to the banquet? Are they the Israelites? Are they the people who are saved but do not belong to the church? Are they the ones that know that they have to worship God but do not know Christ? Ultimately, who are these guests?
The same question arises in one of the parables that Jesus told about. When the groom came for the bride, there were ten virgins waiting with their lamps but only five of them were prepared with oil and were able to go into the wedding banquet, they are those who are blessed. The other five who did not have oil were left outside where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus used this parable to tell people to be watchful. But we have to ask this question: “How come the bride became virgins?”
Since it is still the wedding banquet of the Lamb, how come there is also a fourth joyous event? If the church is the bride, who are the guests who are invited?
We must understand that whenever it talks about the “church”, it is not talking about certain individuals. Christ is married to the church, not to an individual person. Some nuns say: “I am already married to Christ, I cannot get married again.”
When the church is raptured, not every member of the church will be taken up. Some will be raptured, others will be left behind. Five virgins were able to go in but the other five were left out because they were not watchful, they were not prepared with oil. The bride is the church as a whole, virgins or other guests, refers to individual Christians. Each Christian is a special person, each person’s faith is different, their lives are different, none of them are the same. The word “blessed” appears 7 times in Revelation, and every time it is related to watchfulness. Therefore, blessed are those who are watchful.
The five virgins who were not raptured will be left on the earth where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. They will not perish but they will have to go through the darkest times in the earth, they will have to go through the 7 years of great tribulation. Those 7 years of great tribulation were not prepared for believers. Those who have oil in their lamps are the ones who have the Holy Spirit in their lives and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, those are the believers who are watchful . Remember, only those who have the Spirit of Christ in them are the ones who belong to Christ. They are true believers, they will for sure be in the wedding banquet, they are blessed. They will receive a reward from the Lord.